Cerebral Venous Thrombosis

Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), also called cerebral sinovenous thrombosis, is a type of stroke that occurs when a blood clot forms in a venous sinus in the brain, preventing blood from draining away from the brain and resulting in blood leaking into the brain tissue. This type of stroke occurs in adults, as well as infants and children.

Symptoms of Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis may include the following:

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

Complications of CVST may include the following:

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

Experiencing stroke is an emergency situation; call 911 immediately.

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

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

Risk factors for CVST in infants and children can include the following:

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

If You Think Someone Is Having a Stroke
When it comes to stroke, the best way to determine if someone is having one is to think FAST.

  • Face — Does the face look uneven? Ask the person to smile. 
  • Arms — Does one arm drift down? Ask the person to raise both arms. 
  • Speech — Does their speech sound strange? Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. 
  • Time — If you observe any of these signs, it is time to call 911

These symptoms may indicate that a stroke has occurred — medical attention is needed immediately.

Diagnosis of Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis
Doctors at Houston Methodist will obtain a medical history, if possible, perform a physical examination and perform blood tests to determine clotting time, levels of critical blood factors and blood sugar, and whether infection is present. You may undergo imaging tests, such as computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or a cerebral angiogram, to allow our team to get a better understanding of what type of stroke is occurring.

Treatment Options for Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis
Treatment at Houston Methodist begins immediately and may include the administration of fluids, antibiotics in the case of infection and antiseizure medications, as well as controlling intracranial pressure. Once your condition is stabilized, our doctors will take steps to identify and treat the underlying cause of CVST, and your symptoms may be managed with anticoagulants and pain relievers.

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