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Quantitative analysis of axonal loss in band atrophy of the optic nerve using scanning laser polarimetry
  1. M L R Monteiro,
  2. F A Medeiros,
  3. M R Ostroscki
  1. Department of Ophthalmology, University of São Paulo Medical School, São Paulo, Brazil
  1. Correspondence to: Mário L R Monteiro, Av Angélica 1757 conj 61, 01227-200 São Paulo, SP, Brazil; mlrmonteiro{at}


Aims: To measure axonal loss in patients with band atrophy from optic chiasm compression using scanning laser polarimetry (GDx, Laser Diagnostic Technologies, Inc, San Diego, CA, USA) and to evaluate the ability of this instrument to identify this pattern of retinal nerve fibre layer (RNFL) loss.

Methods: 19 eyes from 17 consecutive patients with band atrophy of the optic nerve and permanent temporal hemianopia due to chiasmal compression, and 19 eyes from an age and sex matched control group of 17 healthy individuals were prospectively studied. All patients were submitted to an ophthalmic examination including Goldmann perimetry and evaluation of the RNFL using scanning laser polarimetry. Mean RNFL thickness around the optic disc were compared between the two groups. The diagnostic performance of the deviation from normal analysis provided by the GDx software was also assessed.

Results: The peripapillary RNFL thickness (mean (SD)) of eyes with band atrophy was 47.9 (7.63) μm, 37.1 (8.48) μm, 57.0 (9.31) μm, and 37.2 (8.86) μm in the superior, temporal, inferior, and nasal regions, respectively. The total average was 43.7 (12.0) μm. In the control group, the corresponding values were 71.1 (12.2) μm, 40.4 (10.9) μm, 85.4 (14.0) μm, and 49.8 (10.1) μm. The total average measured 67.9 (11.2) μm. The measurements from eyes with optic atrophy were significantly different from those in the control group in all regions but the temporal. The deviation from normal analysis provided by the GDx software failed to identify the majority of abnormalities in the temporal and nasal regions of patients with band atrophy.

Conclusions: Scanning laser polarimetry was able to identify axonal loss in the superior, inferior, and nasal regions, but failed to detect it in the temporal region of the optic disc, despite the fact that this area was clearly altered in eyes with band atrophy. This examination also showed poor sensitivity to detect axonal loss in the nasal region when GDx software analysis was used. The results of this study emphasise that RNFL evaluation using scanning laser polarimetry should be interpreted with caution in the study of eye diseases that lead to axonal loss predominantly in the nasal and temporal areas of the optic disc.

  • axonal loss
  • band atrophy
  • optic nerve
  • scanning laser polarimetry

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