IIH glossary and abbreviations

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IIH glossary and abbreviations

Post by iih » Fri Feb 24, 2017 7:11 pm

Glossary of terms and abbreviations often used in reference to IIH.

Acetazolamide: see Diamox
Amitriptyline: an antidepressant drug which is used in low dosage in IIH to treat some of the symptoms of the condition
Analgesic: drug used to produce analgesia, i.e. relieve pain, often referred to as painkillers
Angiogram: a radiological (x-ray) study which shows the blood vessels leading to, and in the brain, by injecting a dye or contrast substance through a catheter placed in an artery in the leg, arm or neck, see also venogram
Anti seizure drugs: may also be used to treat neuropathic (nerve) pain, for example, gabapentin (Neurontin), and Topiramate (Topomax)
Antidepressants and relaxants: drugs which in low doses can help to relax you, for example so that you don't get a tension headache as well as a high pressure headache. Some of these type of drugs include that are sometimes prescribed for IIH are Amitriptyline (Triptafen), Imipramine (Tofranil), and Diazepam. Because diazepam is highly addictive it is only used for short spells for acute, very severe, symptoms.
Anti-emetics: drugs that reduce feelings of nausea and vomiting. Some of the drugs that doctors may prescribe for severe symptoms are Prochlorperazine (Stemetil, Buccastem), Domperidone (Motilium), and Betahistine (Serc).
Aphasia: loss or impairment of the power to use or comprehend words. IIH sufferers may sometimes experience short, temporary spells of aphasia
Ataxia: Imbalance of walking (gait).

Benign Intracranial Hypertension (BIH): many people do not use this term now as use of the word 'benign' implies that the condition is harmless. Although the condition is benign in the sense that there is no malignancy, left untreated, it can lead to permanent visual loss, and is therefore not harmless. Many people now prefer to use the term idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH).
Betamethasone: a corticosteroid drug which is sometimes used to treat neuropathic (nerve) pain from nerve compression from raised intracranial pressure in IIH
Bitemporal Craniectomy (BTC): Surgical operation where a portion of the skull is removed from both sides of the head in the temple area (the flat area on either side of the forehead) , leaving an opening in the skull. This opening may be left or may be covered by synthetic material ("cranioplasty")
Blind spot: Everyone has a blind spot in their vision. It is caused by a gap in the retina where the optic nerve is attached to the back of the eye. It is not normally noticed as the brain compensates for the missing vision by ‘filling in the gaps’. Sometimes, sufferers of IIH have an increased or enlarged blind spot. This may become big enough to notice gaps in vision, but is often only picked up during visual field tests.

CAT or CT scan: a sectional view of the body constructed by computed tomography -- called also CT scan. CT scanning is non-invasive and uses x-rays to create the 'picture'
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF): the fluid that surrounds the brain and the spinal cord. The CSF circulates around the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system). This "water bath" acts as a support of buoyancy for the brain and spinal cord. The support of the CSF helps to protect the brain from injury. The normal pressure of the fluid which is measured by a manometer during a lumbar puncture is 10-20cm/H20 (although some doctors say that up to 25cm/H20 is normal in patients who are overweight).
CNS (central nervous system): the brain and spinal cord, part of the nervous system
Codeine: a powerful analgesic drug in the opioid (opiate) class of analgesic drugs
Corticosteroids: drugs which are sometimes used to treat neuropathic (nerve) pain from nerve compression from raised intracranial pressure in IIH, such as dexamethasone and betamethasone. Because corticosteroids are very powerful drugs that can have some serious side effects at high dosages especially when used for extended length of time, they are only used for short periods and at relatively low doses.
Craniectomy: Surgical operation on the brain in which a portion of the skull is drilled away leaving an opening in the skull. This opening may be left or may be covered by synthetic material ("cranioplasty")
Craniotomy: Surgical operation on the brain in which a portion of the skull is removed in order to gain access to the brain. The portion of the skull that is removed is replaced (distinguish "craniectomy").

Dexamethasone: a corticosteroid drug which is sometimes used to treat neuropathic (nerve) pain from nerve compression from raised intracranial pressure in IIH
Diamox: the trade name of a drug often prescribed to try to control IIH. Diamox (acetazolamide) is a diuretic which is often prescribed to glaucoma patients. It is thought that the drug acts in IIH by reducing the amount of cerebrospinal fluid that is produced by the body. Acetazolamide inhibits carbonic anhydrase formation in the brain, reducing the amount of CSF produced.
Diplopia: commonly called double vision, where one object is perceived as two. This can be caused due to unequal action of the eye muscles. This is normally reported with binocular vision (using both eyes), but very occasionally it can still be present when one eye is closed. Some sufferers have permanent double vision, caused by high pressure causing damage to the nerves that move the eyes, but it is also common to have temporary episodes. The symptom can sometimes improve with drug treatment – usually Diamox.
Double vision: see diplopia
Diuretic: a type of drug which reduces fluid in the body by increasing the excretion of water and mineral salts by the kidneys, increasing urine production. They are also sometimes called 'water tablets'. Acetazolomide (Diamox) and Frusemide (Frusol, Lasix) are drugs which are commonly used in IIH because of their specific effect on cerebral oedema. Sometimes more than one diuretic may be used in combination to achieve the desired effect and minimise side effects.
Dura: the lining of the brain
Dysphasia: loss of or deficiency in the power to use or understand language. IIH sufferers may sometimes experience short, temporary spells of dysphasia


Field test: a test performed by ophthalmologists to assesses how much peripheral vision you have, monitor vision and assess how well patients are responding to treatment.
Frusemide (Frusol, Lasix): diuretic drug sometimes given in place of or in addition to acetazolomide

Gabapetin (Neurontin): an anti seizure drug which is sometimes used to treat neuropathic (nerve) pain in IIH

Hemianopsia: Loss of one half of the visual field. May be "homonymous" (same half of both eyes, i.e. left field of both eyes) or bitemporal (lateral portion of visual field for each eye).
Hydrocephalus: an excess of cerebrospinal fluid inside the skull due to a disruption in normal CSF circulation, or loss of brain tissue. Hydrocephalus is often a congenital condition (i.e. present at birth) which often occurs in conjunction with spina bifida. Hydrocephalus shares many symptoms with IIH, and is usually treated surgically in the same way as IIH, by use of ventriculo-peritoneal shunts.
Hypertension: fluids under pressure

ICP bolt: a device used for ICP monitoring. A subarachnoid * or bolt is a hollow * that is inserted through a hole drilled in the skull and through a hole cut in the dura mater (the lining that surrounds the brain) where a sensor measures the ICP and sends it to a recording device.
ICP monitoring: monitoring of intracranial pressure over time, this is often done through the * of an ICP bolt
ICP: abbreviation for intracranial pressure
Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH): the term used for intracranial hypertension (IH) for which no cause can be found
Idiopathic: unknown cause
Intracranial hypertension (IH): a serious neurological condition in which there is high cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pressure within the skull
Intracranial pressure: the pressure inside the cranial cavity. It is maintained at a normal level by brain tissue, intracellular and extracellular fluid, cerebrospinal fluid and blood. Normal intracranial pressure is 8-20cm/H20 (although some doctors say that up to 25cm/H20 is normal in patients who are overweight).
Intracranial: inside the head
Iris: the coloured part of the eye. It is contraction of the muscle fibres in the iris which regulate the amount of light entering the eye through the pupil



LP shunt: see lumbar-peritoneal shunt
LP: see lumbar puncture
Lumbar puncture (spinal tap): a procedure where a needle is placed in the spinal canal (the sheath that surrounds the spinal cord) in the lumbar region of the spinal cord to withdraw cerebrospinal fluid to measure the pressure of cerebrospinal fluid to diagnose intracranial hypertension. Lumbar punctures may also be used therapeutically to ease the symptoms of intracranial hypertension and to protect permanent damage to vision.
Lumbar-peritoneal shunt: a shunt where tubing is inserted into the area of lumbar spine and into the abdominal cavity (peritoneum) to allow excess CSF to drain away and be reabsorbed into the body. There may or may not be a valve attached to an LP shunt.

Manometer: a device for measuring pressure by means of a column of liquid. The height of the liquid is directly proportional to the pressure being measured. In a lumbar puncture, a manometer is attached to the special needle that is used to withdraw CSF to measure its pressure
MRI: a scanning technique. A non-invasive diagnostic technique that produces computerized images of internal body tissues, based on nuclear magnetic resonance of atoms within the body induced by the application of radio waves (magnetic resonance imaging)
MRV: an MRI scan where a contrast medium is injected into the veins to enable doctors to clearly see the veins and sinuses around the brain to check for thrombosis (blood clot) or to rule out compression by tumour of the cerebral venous sinus

Nervous system: the structures controlling the actions and functions of the body; it comprises the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) and the peripheral nerve fibres and ganglia.
Neurologist: doctor who specialises in neurological diseases and disorders, those involving the brain and nervous system
Neurology/Neurological: relating to the nervous system, the brain and the nerves
Neuropathic: of the nerves, e.g. neuropathic pain - nerve pain
Neurosurgeon: surgeon who specialises in surgery of the nervous system
Neurosurgery: surgery of the nervous system, including procedures such as shunts and optic nerve sheath fenestration
Non-opioid (opiate) analgesics: analgesic drugs which are no in the opioid (opiate) class. They have no tendency to produce dependence, but they also can have side effects. They are sometimes referred to as weak analgesics. This class also includes NSAIDs - non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Non-opioids are often used in combination with other analgesics, e.g. paracetamol with codeine
NSAIDS: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These are in the non-opioid (opiate) class of analgesics

Oedema: abnormal retention of fluid
ONSF: see optic nerve sheath fenestration
Ophthalmological surgeon: surgeon specialising in surgery of the eye
Ophthalmologist: a medically qualified specialist in ophthalmology
Ophthalmology/Ophthalmological: relating to the eye
Ophthalmoscope: an instrument uses to look into the structures of the eye. The ophthalmoscope has a mirror with a hole in the centre with a light attached that enables the doctor to see into the back of your eye. The ophthalmoscope has lenses in the mirror which can be rotated into the opening in the mirror so that the doctor can clearly focus the various structures within the eye
Opioids (opiates): powerful analgesic drugs that act on the central nervous system and alter perception of pain. Opioids drugs have many possible side effects, including addiction. Opiate drugs also have a tendency to make you feel drowsy, though there are other potentially serious side effects which make doctors wary of prescribing opiates unnecessarily.
Optic disk: the point where the optic nerve enters the eyeball
Optic nerve sheath fenestration (ONSF): a surgical procedure sometimes performed for IIH to relieve pressure on the optic nerve. An incision is made in the optic nerve’s protective covering and slits or 'windows' are cut into the optic nerve sheath, allowing the excess fluid to escape and harmlessly absorb into surrounding tissues. ONSF can reduce the visual symptoms of IIH but usually has no effect on the neurological symptoms of IIH
Orthoptics: the study and treatment of eye movement disorders
Orthoptist: medical professional who specialises in assessment and treatment of eye movement disorders. Additionally orthoptists may carry out some visual tests such as visual field tests

Painkillers: the common name used for drugs that are used to relieve pain, sometimes called analgesics
Papilloedema: swelling of the optic nerve caused by raised intracranial pressure which can lead to a number of visual problems. Papilloedema causes protrusion and enlargement of the 'blind spot' on the retina where the optic nerve enters the back of the eye and can cause a number of visual problems.
Photophobia: this is literally ‘fear of light’, dislike of, and pain caused by, bright light. Many IIH sufferers have this symptom. Bright light is painful to the eyes, and also increases headache pain. Some people feel ‘blinded’ by strong light or even normal daylight, and need to be in a dark environment. In rare cases, the nerves signalling to the muscles moving the iris can become damaged, and the iris will not react as quickly as normal to light, intensifying the difficulty.
Pseudotumor cerebri (PCT): a term used for intracranial hypertension from the Latin, which literally means "false brain tumor" as benign intracranial hypertension (BIH) and idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) mimics the symptoms of a brain tumour
Pulsatile tinnitus: "whooshing noise" that is heard in the ears in time with the pulse
Pupil: the opening in the iris of the eye which allows the passage of light


Retina: the lining of the back of the eyeball where cells convert light into electrical signals, the surface onto which we see images is projected.

Shunt: A shunt is a device that is inserted in the body to allow the passage of fluid through a channel other than the usual channel. In IIH this term refers to a device which moves cerebrospinal fluid from one place, to another (usually the abdominal cavity), where it can be re-absorbed. See also ventriculo-peritoneal shunt and lumbar-peritoneal shunt.
Slit lamp: a microscope with a light attached that allows the doctor to examine your eyes under high magnification. This instrument is usually used to view the front structures of the eye such as the cornea, iris, and lens, however, with special lenses, it's possible to examine the back of the eye as well. The instrument’s name comes from its adjustable light beam. By changing the width of the beam, the doctor can gather important detail about each eye structure.
Spinal tap: see Lumbar puncture
Stenosis: narrowing of the venous channels
Stent: a device used to provide a shunt or keep a tube or vessel open. Where high CSF pressure causes stenosis, narrowing of the venous channels (large veins) around the brain, reducing the blood flow, a stent, a wire mesh is inserted into the vein and acts as a support, allowing the blood to flow freely. This is still a relatively new procedure in people with IIH, and further research is needed to determine the actual cause of the stenosis.
Sub-temporal decompression: This involves removing a portion of the skull and opening the dura (brain lining) to relieve pressure. This procedure is not normally recommended nowadays.

Tinnitus: a sensation of noise (may be heard as ringing, buzzing, whistling, roaring, or a variety of other sounds) that is thought to be caused by a bodily condition and can usually be heard only by the person affected (see also pulsatile tinnitus)
Topiramate (Topomax): an anti seizure drug which is sometimes used to treat migraine type headaches and is sometimes prescribed for IIH patients. Topiramate also inhibits carbonic anhydrase formation in the brain (i.e. the same action that acetazolamide has) but with less side effects. Weight reduction can also be a side-effect of topiramate.
Transient visual obscurations: episodes of temporary blurred vision that usually last less than 30 seconds and are followed by full recovery of vision. They occur in about 3/4 of IIH patients and may be involve one or both eyes. They are not correlated with ICP or with the extent of papilloedema.
TVO: See Transient visual obscuation.


Venogram: radiological (x-ray) examination of the venous system (blood vessels) in the brain involving the injection of a contrast medium to clearly show the blood vessels, see also angiogram
Venous: relating to the veins
Ventricles: the fluid filled cavities in the centre of the brain where CSF fluid is produced
Ventriculo-peritoneal shunt: in the ventriculo-peritoneal shunt, the shunt is inserted directly in the ventricles of the brain, the fluid filled cavities in the centre of the brain and the tubing is fed down through the neck into the peritoneal cavity to allow excess CSF to drain away and be reabsorbed into the body. Ventriculo-peritoneal shunts are controlled by a valve which prevents back-flow of the fluid and regulates the rate of drainage.
Visual acuity: sharpness of vision
Visual field test: a test that is performed by ophthalmologists to assess how much each eye is contributing to the field of vision overall
Visual field: the entire expanse of space visible at a given instant without moving the eyes - also called field of vision
VP shunt: see ventriculo-peritoneal shunt

Water tablets: another name for diuretic drugs
WHO: abbreviation for World Health Organisation




If you have any terms you think should be added to the glossary or know of any good websites that provide information on any of the terms, please let us know so we can add them to the list.


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