Courtney Francis MD        Sylvia Lucas MD, PhD      Michael Williams MD          Michael Levitt MD 

Neuro-Ophthalmology     Neurology/Headache   Neurology/CSF disorders  Vascular neurosurgery


Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) is a condition in which elevated pressure of the cerebral spinal fluid can cause severe headaches and may lead to permanent vision loss. Treatment typically includes weight loss, medications and occasionally surgery, which can include optic nerve surgery or neurosurgery to place shunts in the brain. While often managed by a neuro-ophthalmologists, patients often require coordinated care with involvement of a neurosurgeon for surgical intervention and a neurologist for management of persistent chronic headaches. Click here to learn more about intracranial hypertension.

In 2016, Michelle Catchot was frustrated with the treatment she was receiving for IIH in Northern California and sought out care at the University of Washington. Through coordinated efforts in the ophthalmology, neurology and neurosurgery clinics, she had a cerebral venous sinus stent placed and was able to successfully taper off all of her medications. In gratitude for the care Michelle received, her family donated funds in part to help establish the UW multidisciplinary intracranial hypertension clinic. 

In February 2017 the first monthly interdisciplinary IIH clinic at the UW Eye Institute was held. In this clinic, patients from all over Washington state and occasionally even further away, are scheduled to see multiple physicians during the same visit, saving them time and expense. Additionally, the physicians can discuss patients together in real time to come up with treatment plans for patients with complex disease. Over the course of the first year, the IIH clinic saw 50 unique patients, many with multiple visits. This is one of very few dedicated IIH clinics nationally and the only one in the Pacific Northwest. We hope to continue to grow the clinic to help more patients throughout the region.

Clinic staff are also excited to begin recruitment for the OPEN-UP trial which will compare the placement of venous sinus stents with ventriculoperitoneal shunts in the treatment of patient with IIH and severe vision loss. This is a multicenter trial which we hope will contribute significantly to the treatment of this complex disease. 

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