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July 1988

Visual Evoked Potentials to Multiple Temporal Frequencies: Use in the Differential Diagnosis of Optic Neuropathy

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Ophthalmology (Drs Bobak, Friedman, Brigell, and Goodwin) and Biostatistics (Dr Anderson), University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr Brigell is now with the Department of Neurology, Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, Ill.

Arch Ophthalmol. 1988;106(7):936-940. doi:10.1001/archopht.1988.01060140082029

• The usefulness of the visual evoked potential (VEP) in differential diagnosis increases when stimulus parameters such as check size and grating orientation are varied. In this study we varied the stimulation frequency. Temporal frequency-specific abnormalities were compared in three patient categories, including retrobulbar optic neuritis (eight patients), pseudotumor cerebri (11 patients), and thyroid eye disease (seven patients). All patients had minimal clinical evidence of optic nerve damage when tested. A 2.3 cycle-per-degree sinusoidal grating of 55% contrast was phase reversed at either 1 or 4 Hz. The P1 latency of the 1-Hz data and the phase at 8 Hz, the second harmonic of the 4-Hz input frequency, were measured. In retrobulbar neuritis, latency (phase) was severely abnormal at both temporal frequencies. In thyroid eye disease, VEP phase was abnormal at 8 Hz while the P1 latency was normal at 1 Hz. The P1 latency and phase were normal in most cases of pseudotumor cerebri. The results suggest differing mechanisms for damage in compressive vs primary demyelinating neuropathies.

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