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Kahraman-Koytak P, Bruce BB, Peragallo JH, Newman NJ, Biousse V. Diagnostic Errors in Initial Misdiagnosis of Optic Nerve Sheath Meningiomas. JAMA Neurol. 2019;76(3):326–332. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2018.3989
What is the source of errors in the initial misdiagnosis of optic nerve sheath meningiomas?
In this medical record review that included 35 patients with optic nerve sheath meningiomas, 25 initially received a misdiagnosis that resulted in diagnostic delay, most frequently due to clinician assessment failures and errors in diagnostic testing.
Education regarding diagnostic strategies and proper neuroimaging for optic neuropathies may prevent vision loss from the initial misdiagnosis of optic nerve sheath meningiomas.
Diagnostic errors can lead to the initial misdiagnosis of optic nerve sheath meningiomas (ONSM), which can lead to vision loss.
To identify factors contributing to the initial misdiagnosis of ONSM.
Design, Setting, and Participants
We retrospectively reviewed 35 of 39 patients with unilateral ONSM (89.7%) who were seen in the tertiary neuro-ophthalmology practice at Emory University School of Medicine between January 2002 and March 2017. The Diagnosis Error Evaluation and Research taxonomy tool was applied to cases with missed/delayed diagnoses.
Evaluation in a neuro-ophthalmology clinic.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Identifying the cause of diagnostic errors for patients who initially received a misdiagnosis who were found to have ONSM.
Of 35 patients with unilateral ONSM (30 women [85.7%]; mean [SD] age, 45.26 [15.73] years), 25 (71%) had a diagnosis delayed for a mean (SD) of 62.60 (89.26) months. The most common diagnostic error (19 of 25 [76%]) was clinician assessment failure (errors in hypothesis generation and weighing), followed by errors in diagnostic testing (15 of 25 [60%]). The most common initial misdiagnosis was optic neuritis (12 of 25 [48%]), followed by the failure to recognize optic neuropathy in patients with ocular disorders. Five patients who received a misdiagnosis (20%) underwent unnecessary lumbar puncture, 12 patients (48%) unnecessary laboratory tests, and 6 patients (24%) unnecessary steroid treatment. Among the 16 patients who initially received a misdiagnosis that was later correctly diagnosed at our institution, 11 (68.8%) had prior magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) results that were read as healthy; 5 (45.5%) showed ONSM but were misread by a non-neuroradiologist and 6 (54.5%) were performed incorrectly (no orbital sequence or contrast). Sixteen of the 25 patients (64%) had a poor visual outcome.
Conclusions and Relevance
Biased preestablished diagnoses, inaccurate funduscopic examinations, a failure to order the correct test (MRI brain/orbits with contrast), and a failure to correctly interpret MRI results were the most common sources of diagnostic errors and delayed diagnosis with worse visual outcomes and increased cost (more visits and tests). Easier access to neuro-ophthalmologists, improved diagnostic strategies, and education regarding neuroimaging should help prevent diagnostic errors.