Cerebral Venous Thrombosis

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Houston Methodist’s specialized cerebral venous sinus thrombosis team is adept at swift diagnosis and timely treatment to reduce immediate health risks and manage the underlying causes of CVST. 

Collaborative specialists at Houston Methodist are uniquely positioned to diagnose and treat cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) — a relatively rare, complex type of stroke. As the first comprehensive stroke center in the U.S., our world-class neurologists bring decades of expertise to the diagnoses and treatment plans we recommend.

We provide leading-edge treatment options, including clinical trial therapies  that are not widely available at other institutions. Time is of the essence  , and our neurologists use the most innovative knowledge and technology to customize swift, precise care for each patient.

Diagnosing & Treating CVST

What causes CVST?

CVST occurs when a blood clot forms in a venous sinus — a large vein that helps transport blood between the brain and heart — and prevents blood from draining away from the brain; instead, blood leaks into the brain tissue. This type of stroke occurs in adults as well as infants and children.

A CVST is more common in women than men and may be related to hormonal factors such as contraception use and pregnancy. Risk factors in adults are related to conditions that affect the blood’s ability to coagulate:


  • Cancer 
  • Collagen vascular disease (lupus, Behcet’s disease, Wegener’s granulomatosis) 
  • Contraception use in women 
  • Deficiencies or mutations associated with blood clotting (factor V Leiden mutation, lupus anticoagulant, antiphospholipid syndrome, antithrombin III deficiency, protein S or C deficiency) 
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis) 
  • Intracranial hypotension (lower than normal fluid pressure in the head)
  • Obesity 
  • Pregnancy and the period around birth 
  • Severe dehydration


Risk factors for CVST in infants and children can include:


  • Beta-thalassemia major (blood disorder that reduces hemoglobin production)
  • Conditions associated with problems with blood clotting 
  • Chronic hemolytic anemia (destruction of red blood cells)
  • Dehydration 
  • Head injury 
  • Heart disease (congenital or acquired) 
  • In newborns, a mother with infection or past infertility 
  • Iron deficiency 
  • Sickle cell anemia 
  • Sinus infection or inflammation in the back of the throat or tonsils 

How is CVST diagnosed?

If you are experiencing CVST symptoms, Houston Methodist stroke specialists will obtain your medical history, if possible; perform a physical examination; and then perform blood tests to determine clotting time, levels of critical blood factors and blood sugar, and whether infection is present. 

CVST symptoms can include:


  • Blurred or double vision 
  • Coma
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness 
  • Seizure 
  • Severe headache 
  • Weakness or loss of control in the face or limbs on one side of the body


You may also have imaging exams such as CT, MRI or a cerebral angiogram so our team can quickly and accurately determine whether CVST is the cause of your symptoms.

What treatment options are available?

CVST requires emergency treatment — it can cause a life-threatening stroke. Emergency treatment may include:


  • Administration of IV fluids
  • Antibiotics in the case of infection
  • Antiseizure medications
  • Controlling intracranial pressure


Once your condition is stabilized, our doctors will take steps to identify and treat the underlying cause of CVST, which may require medication or a procedure. Our goal is to prevent complications, which can include:


  • Speech or vision impairment 
  • Problems moving parts of the body 
  • Headache 
  • Increased intracranial pressure and brain injury 
  • Developmental delay in infants and children 
  • Death


Our stroke centers are  certified by DNV Healthcare, Inc., one of the leading accrediting agencies for U.S. hospitals. We provide the most advanced treatments and therapies for patients recovering from CVST. 

Find Clinical Trials

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Houston Methodist is leading the way in research to find innovative treatment options.

Stroke Risk in Young Adults Is Higher Than You Might Expect

Strokes appear to be increasing in younger age groups. Young people with blood coagulation defects or conditions should be aware of their stroke risk factors and overall health condition.

Read more about recognizing stroke risk >

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