Obstructive sleep apnoea in women with idiopathic intracranial hypertension: a substudy of the Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension Weight randomised controlled trial (IIH:WT)

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  • James Mitchell
  • Yu Jeat Chong
  • Vivek Vijay
  • Benjamin Wakerley
  • Susan Mollan


Obesity is a risk factor for idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) and obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). We aimed to determine the prevalence of OSA in IIH and evaluate the diagnostic performance of OSA screening tools in IIH. Additionally, we evaluated the relationship between weight loss, OSA and IIH over 12 months.

A sub-study of a multi-centre, randomised controlled parallel group trial comparing the impact of bariatric surgery vs. community weight management intervention (CWI) on IIH-related outcomes over 12 months (IIH:WT). OSA was assessed using home-based polygraphy (ApneaLink Air, ResMed) at baseline and 12 months. OSA was defined as an apnoea–hypopnoea index (AHI) ≥ 15 or ≥ 5 with excessive daytime sleepiness (Epworth Sleepiness Scale ≥11 ).

Of the 66 women in the IIH: WT trial, 46 were included in the OSA sub-study. OSA prevalence was 47% (n = 19). The STOP-BANG had the highest sensitivity (84%) compared to the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (69%) and Berlin (68%) to detect OSA. Bariatric surgery resulted in greater reductions in AHI vs. CWI (median [95%CI] AHI reduction of  – 2.8 [ – 11.9, 0.7], p = 0.017). Over 12 months there was a positive association between changes in papilloedema and AHI (r = 0.543, p = 0.045), despite adjustment for changes in the body mass index (R2 = 0.522, p = 0.017).

OSA is common in IIH and the STOP-BANG questionnaire was the most sensitive screening tool. Bariatric surgery improved OSA in patients with IIH. The improvement in AHI was associated with improvement in papilloedema independent of weight loss. Whether OSA treatment has beneficial impact on papilloedema warrants further evaluation.

Trial registration number
IIH: WT is registered as ISRCTN40152829 and on ClinicalTrials.gov as NCT02124486 (28/04/2014).


Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Neurology
Early online date22 Aug 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Aug 2021