Scientific article

Neuro-ophthalmology Emergency Department and Inpatient Consultations at a Large Academic Referral Center

Published inOphthalmology, vol. 130, no. 12, p. 1304-1312
Publication date2023-12

Purpose: Prompt neuro-ophthalmology consultation prevents diagnostic errors and improves patient outcomes. The scarcity of neuro-ophthalmologists means that the increasing outpatient demand cannot be met, prompting many emergency department (ED) referrals by non-neuro-ophthalmologists. We describe our quaternary care institution's ED and inpatient neuro-ophthalmology consultation patterns and patient outcomes.

Design: Prospective observational study.

Participants: Consecutive neuro-ophthalmology ED and inpatient consultation requests over 1 year.

Methods: We collected patient demographics, distance traveled, insurance status, referring provider details, consultation question, final diagnosis, complexity of consultation, time of consultation, and need for outpatient follow-up.

Main outcome measures: Consultation patterns and diagnoses, complexity, and follow-up.

Results: Of 494 consecutive adult ED and inpatient neuro-ophthalmology consultations requested over 1 year, 241 of 494 consultations (49%) occurred at night or during weekends. Of ED consultations (322 of 494 [65%]), 127 of 322 consultations (39%) occurred during weekdays, 126 of 322 consultations (39%) occurred on weeknights, and 69 of 322 consultations (22%) occurred on weekends or holidays. Of 322 ED consultations, 225 of 322 consultations (70%) were patients who initially sought treatment in the ED with a neuro-ophthalmic chief symptom. Of the 196 patients sent to the ED by a health care professional, 148 patients (148/196 [76%]) were referred by eye care specialists (74 optometrists and 74 ophthalmologists). The most common ED referral questions were for papilledema (75 of 322 [23%]) and vision loss (72 of 322 [22%]). A total of 219 of 322 patients (68%) received a final active neuro-ophthalmic diagnosis, 222 of 322 patients (69%) were cases of high or very high complexity, and 143 of 322 patients (44%) required admission. Inpatient consultations (n = 172) were requested most frequently by hospitalists, including neurologists (71 of 172 [41%]) and oncologists (20 of 172 [12%]) for vision loss (43 of 172 [25%]) and eye movement disorders (36 of 172 [21%]) and by neurosurgeons (58 of 172 [33%]) for examination for mass or a preoperative evaluation (19 of 172 [11%]). An active neuro-ophthalmic diagnosis was confirmed in 67% of patients (116 of 172). Outpatient neuro-ophthalmology follow-up was required for 291 of 494 patients (59%).

Conclusions: Neuro-ophthalmology consultations are critical to the diagnosis and management in the hospital setting. In the face of a critical shortage of neuro-ophthalmologists, this study highlights the need for technological and diagnostic aids for greater outpatient access.

  • Consultations
  • Emergency department
  • Neuro-ophthalmology
  • Papilledema
  • Referrals
Affiliation Not a UNIGE publication
Citation (ISO format)
OKRENT SMOLAR, Avital Lily et al. Neuro-ophthalmology Emergency Department and Inpatient Consultations at a Large Academic Referral Center. In: Ophthalmology, 2023, vol. 130, n° 12, p. 1304–1312. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2023.07.028
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0161-6420

Technical informations

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