Spontaneous venous pulsations (Video)

This video shows what spontaneous venous pulsations look like in the retina. This eye is suffering from ocular ischemic syndrome which has dilated the retinal veins and make them even easier to see than usual.

Most people believe that these pulsations are caused because of a differential between eye and CSF pressure. The CSF cavity (transmitted forward along the optic nerves) is separated from the vitreous cavity by only the lamina cribosa at the optic nerve head. When pressure is elevated too high around the brain, the pulsations stop because the pressure gradient is too high. The presence of pulsations is a reasonably good indicator that the CSF pressure is ok. Unfortunately, the lack of pulsations doesn’t tell you much as this can be entirely normal.

Pulsations are only rarely examined in ophthalmology, and this findings is more often sought after by neurology who deal more with ICP issues.

Download this video

To download this video, right click on a link below and choose “Save Target As…”

spontaneousvenouspulsations.wmv (5.0 meg, Windows video file)

Screenshots

Spontaneous Venous Pulsations
This photo shows an optic nerve in an eye that had suffered from ocular ischemia. The veins leading into the nerve are enlarged, especially the large one at the bottom of the cup.
Optic Nerve Vein
The larger-than-average vein pulsates with the heartbeat.
SHARE
Dr. Timothy Root is a practicing ophthalmologist and cataract surgeon in Daytona Beach, Florida. His books, video lectures, and training resources can be found at:

14 COMMENTS

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for the interesting video. I can see the veins dilated, which is a classical sign of OIS. The arteries look much attenuated and these pulsations seem to originate rather from the retinal artery, which is another typical sign of severe ocular blood flow compromise.
    Mostafa

  2. Hi,
    Thanks for the interesting video. I can see the veins dilated, which is a classical sign of OIS. The arteries look much attenuated and these pulsations seem to originate rather from the retinal artery, which is another typical sign of severe ocular blood flow compromise, and that is perhaps transmitted to the venous wall.
    Mostafa

  3. Great video, thank you so much. Being in my last year of neurology, I have always had difficulty seeing this, but now I have a better idea of what to look for.

    Michael Abraham

  4. 2times I saw spontaneous venous pulsations when taking fundus examination in patients. This sign also broughtsome questions to me and I tried to explain it

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here