Background The modified Dandy criteria and the newer diagnostic criteria for pseudotumor cerebri syndrome (PTCS) are both used to diagnose intracranial hypertension (IH). In comparison to the modified Dandy criteria, the PTCS criteria stratify the IH diagnosis into definite, probable, and suggested categories, exclude clinical symptoms, and use radiologic evidence for diagnosis. There is a lack of consensus on which criteria should be used in the pediatric population. The purpose of this study was to compare the diagnostic criteria for PTCS to the modified Dandy criteria and to identify limitations within both sets of criteria. Methods The PTCS criteria were retrospectively applied to 50 patients originally diagnosed with IH under the modified Dandy criteria. Results Of the 50 patients, 31 (62%) met diagnostic criteria for definite PTCS, 10 (20%) met criteria for probable PTCS, and 9 patients (18%) failed to meet sufficient PTCS criteria for diagnosis. Conclusions Although the PTCS criteria use objective data to make the IH diagnosis, we found subjective symptoms to be useful indicators of disease in this group of patients. Additionally, distinguishing probable from definite IH may not have clinical relevance, because both groups were treated similarly. The absence of radiographic evidence of IH should not preclude a diagnosis of the condition, as it was present in a minority of patients included in this study. Further research is needed to clarify the disease process in patients who present with signs and symptoms of elevated intracranial pressure but lack ocular pathology.
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