Bariatric Surgery Relieves IIH Symptoms

Typically, idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) is associated with obesity, or a body mass index (BMI) over 30.0. As obesity rates have continued to increase globally, so have the incidences of IIH. But according to Medical Dialogues, bariatric surgery could be effective in reducing IIH symptoms, such as intracranial pressure, and inducing remission. In fact, a study suggests that bariatric surgery is more effective – in these instances – than community weight management intervention. Check out the full study findings published in JAMA Neurology.

Bariatric Surgery

According to the Mayo Clinic:

Gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries — known collectively as bariatric surgery — involve making changes to your digestive system to help you lose weight. Bariatric surgery is done when diet and exercise haven’t worked or when you have serious health problems because of your weight.

In this study, researchers wanted to understand whether bariatric surgery was a more effective treatment option than community weight management interventions. These interventions include low calorie or low energy diets, exercise, and behavioral changes. While these have been associated with some weight loss (approximately 5%), bariatric surgery offers up to 25-30% weight loss, improved cardiac and metabolic function, and sustained reactions.

Altogether, 66 females enrolled in the IIH Weight clinical trial. Those enrolled had a BMI of 35+ and a confirmed IIH diagnosis. During the trial, 50% of participants were enrolled in Weight Watchers, while the other 50% underwent bariatric surgery. Researchers then performed a lumbar puncture at both 12 and 24 months (1 and 2 years, respectively) to measure intracranial pressure. Additionally, researchers evaluated quality of life (QOL), visual acuity, and contrast sensitivity. Overall, the findings show that:

  • Patients receiving bariatric surgery had lower intracranial pressure than those in Weight Watchers at both 12 and 24 months.
  • Additionally, patients who underwent bariatric surgery also weighed significantly less than the other group. These same patients reported a higher quality of life.

In the end, the researchers determined that bariatric surgery offers benefits to obese patients with IIH. Ultimately, they determined that this surgery improved QOL and acts as a superior treatment method to community weight management interventions.

Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH)

As the name suggests, idiopathic intracranial hypertension is high blood pressure (hypertension) in the brain (intracranial) due to an unknown cause (idiopathic). This often occurs when there is too much cerebrospinal fluid or not enough fluid is re-absorbed. As this accumulates, it places pressure on the brain, leading to a variety of health issues. In many cases, IIH mimics brain tumor symptoms. Although IIH has no known cause, there are factors which increase the risk of developing IIH. These include being obese, having a thyroid condition or chronic kidney failure, or being a female of childbearing age. Additionally, certain medications have been linked to IIH. Symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Difficulty walking
  • Changes in vision, such as blurred vision, double vision, or vision loss
  • Forgetfulness
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
    • Note: On top of tinnitus, patients with IIH may experience “rushing” noises or other auditory interruptions.
  • Neck stiffness
  • Frequent and painful headaches which can wake people up from sleep
    • Note: These headaches may manifest at the base of the neck.
  • Depression

Altogether, IIH does not typically affect lifespan. For many patients, the condition can be controlled with medication and weight loss.

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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