Effectiveness of Bariatric Surgery vs Community Weight Management Intervention for the Treatment of Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension: A Randomized Clinical Trial

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Importance: Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) causes headaches, vision loss, and reduced quality of life. Sustained weight loss among patients with IIH is necessary to modify the disease and prevent relapse. Objective: To compare the effectiveness of bariatric surgery with that of a community weight management (CWM) intervention for the treatment of patients with active IIH. Design, Setting, and Participants: This 5-year randomized clinical trial (Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension Weight Trial) enrolled women with active IIH and a body mass index (calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared) of 35 or higher at 5 National Health Service hospitals in the UK between March 1, 2014, and May 25, 2017. Of 74 women assessed for eligibility, 6 did not meet study criteria and 2 declined to participate; 66 women were randomized. Data were analyzed from November 1, 2018, to May 14, 2020. Interventions: Bariatric surgery (n = 33) or CWM intervention (Weight Watchers) (n = 33). Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcome was change in intracranial pressure measured by lumbar puncture opening pressure at 12 months, as assessed in an intention-to-treat analysis. Secondary outcomes included lumbar puncture opening pressure at 24 months as well as visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, perimetric mean deviation, and quality of life (measured by the 36-item Short Form Health Survey) at 12 and 24 months. Because the difference in continuous outcomes between groups is presented, the null effect was at 0. Results: Of the 66 female participants (mean [SD] age, 32.0 [7.8] years), 64 (97.0%) remained in the clinical trial at 12 months and 54 women (81.8%) were included in the primary outcome analysis. Intracranial pressure was significantly lower in the bariatric surgery arm at 12 months (adjusted mean [SE] difference,-6.0 [1.8] cm cerebrospinal fluid [CSF]; 95% CI,-9.5 to-2.4 cm CSF; P =.001) and at 24 months (adjusted mean [SE] difference,-8.2 [2.0] cm CSF; 95% CI,-12.2 to-4.2 cm CSF; P <.001) compared with the CWM arm. In the per protocol analysis, intracranial pressure was significantly lower in the bariatric surgery arm at 12 months (adjusted mean [SE] difference,-7.2 [1.8] cm CSF; 95% CI,-10.6 to-3.7 cm CSF; P <.001) and at 24 months (adjusted mean [SE] difference,-8.7 [2.0] cm CSF; 95% CI,-12.7 to-4.8 cm CSF; P <.001). Weight was significantly lower in the bariatric surgery arm at 12 months (adjusted mean [SE] difference,-21.4 [5.4] kg; 95% CI,-32.1 to-10.7 kg; P <.001) and at 24 months (adjusted mean [SE] difference,-26.6 [5.6] kg; 95% CI,-37.5 to-15.7 kg; P <.001). Quality of life was significantly improved at 12 months (adjusted mean [SE] difference, 7.3 [3.6]; 95% CI, 0.2-14.4; P =.04) and 24 months (adjusted mean [SE] difference, 10.4 [3.8]; 95% CI, 3.0-17.9; P =.006) in the bariatric surgery arm. Conclusions and Relevance: In this randomized clinical trial, bariatric surgery was superior to a CWM intervention in lowering intracranial pressure. The continued improvement over the course of 2 years shows the impact of this intervention with regard to sustained disease remission. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02124486.

Bibliographic note

Funding/Support: This clinical trial was funded by grant NIHR-CS-011-028 (clinician scientist fellowship) from the National Institute for Health Research (Dr Sinclair) and grant MR/K015184/1 from the Medical Research Council of the United Kingdom (Dr Sinclair).


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)678-686
JournalJAMA Neurology
Issue number6
Early online date26 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021

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