Dural venous sinus thrombosis is a subset of cerebral venous thrombosis, often coexisting with cortical or deep vein thrombosis, and presenting in similar fashion, depending mainly on which sinus is involved.
As such please refer to the cerebral venous thrombosis article for a general discussion.
Any age however women on the contraceptive pill are over represented. Please refer to the generic article for a broad discussion on epidemiology and risk factors: cerebral venous thrombosis.
Presentation is variable, and can range from asymptomatic to coma and death. Typically patients complain of headache nausea and vomiting. Neurological deficits are variable.
Superior sagittal sinus or the dominant transverse sinus thrombosis can affect the arachnoid granulations absorption of cerebrospinal fluid, a consequently increase of cerebral swelling may occur 4. The subsequent venous hypertension can lead to oedema, and even haemorrhage.
- hormones, e.g. oral contraceptive pill, pregnancy, puerperium, steroids
- prothrombotic haematological conditions, e.g. protein S deficiency, polycythaemia
- local factors, e.g. skull abnormalities/trauma, infections (especially mastoid sinus - dural sinus occlusive disease - DSOD)
- systemic illness, e.g. dehydration, sepsis, malignancy, connective tissue disorders
- idiopathic: ~12.5%
Please refer to the generic article for a broad discussion on pathology: cerebral venous thrombosis.
Any of the dural sinuses can be affected, in isolation or combined/continuous with one another:
- superior sagittal sinus thrombosis
- straight sinus thrombosis
- transverse sinus thrombosis
- sigmoid sinus thrombosis (including dural sinus occlusive disease -DSOD)
- cavernous sinus thrombosis
Unenhanced CT is usually the first imaging investigation performed given the nonspecific clinical presentation in this cases. When not associated with venous haemorrhage or infarction, it can be a subtle finding on CT images, relying on hyperdensity of the sinus being identified. Potential findings include:
- cord sign
dense vein sign
- a potential pitfall is interpreting the distal superior sagittal sinus as being hyperdense near the torcula herophili; it is important to appreciate that normal blood within the dural sinuses is usually of slightly increased density relative to brain parenchyma and that true hyperdensity is the key to recognising thrombosis
- The walls at this location can be thick, measuring up to 2-3 mm
- cerebral/cortical oedema: secondary to venous hypertension
- unilateral or bilateral cortical or peripheral venous haemorrhage
With contrast administration, especially with a CT venogram, then a filling defect in a sinus is sought. Multiplayer reformatted CT venography has been reported with a sensitivity of 95% for this diagnosis 4. Signs on contrast CT include:
- empty delta sign (specific to a superior sagittal sinus thrombosis)
- gyral enhancement
- prominent intramedullary veins
MRI is able to both visualise the clot as well as the sequelae.
Conventional spin-echo sequences may demonstrate an absence of normal flow void on the dural sinuses. The clot acutely is isodense on T1 and hypointense on T2 (this can mimic a flow void), with subacute clot becoming hyperintense on T1. All the findings listed in the CT section are also seen on MRI.
MRV will demonstrate lack of flow.
- type 1: no imaging abnormality
- type 2: high T2
- type 3: high T2 with enhancement
- type 4: haemorrhage or infarction
Treatment and prognosis
Systemic anticoagulation (e.g. heparin and warfarin) is still the first-line treatment for dural venous thrombosis. Anticoagulation is usually required even in the setting of venous haemorrhage.
Interventional management include microcatheter thrombolysis or thromboplasty.
Dural arteriovenous fistula and increased CSF pressure have been reported as possible complications after dural venous sinus thrombosis.
For general discussion on treatment please refer to the parent article: cerebral venous thrombosis.
- arachnoid granulations: usually characterised as well-defined focal filling defects within the dural venous sinuses (measuring 2–9 mm in diameter) 4
- asymmetric flow in transverse or sigmoid sinus can mimic a dural venous thrombosis
- asymmetric anatomy with one side small or absent
- infarction in a non-arterial location, especially when bilateral or haemorrhagic
- cortical or peripheral haemorrhage, especially when heterogeneous and gyriform
- cortical oedema
- direct signs of a thrombus (e.g. dense clot sign, cord sign, empty delta sign)
- 1. Virapongse C, Cazenave C, Quisling R et-al. The empty delta sign: frequency and significance in 76 cases of dural sinus thrombosis. Radiology. 1987;162 (3): 779-85. Radiology (abstract) - Pubmed citation
- 2. Lee EJ. The empty delta sign. Radiology. 2002;224 (3): 788-9. doi:10.1148/radiol.2243990978 - Pubmed citation
- 3. Schell CL, Rathe RJ. Superior sagittal sinus thrombosis. Still a killer. West. J. Med. 1988;149 (3): 304-7. Free text at pubmed - Pubmed citation
- 4. Rodallec MH, Krainik A, Feydy A et-al. Cerebral venous thrombosis and multidetector CT angiography: tips and tricks. Radiographics. 2006;26 Suppl 1 (suppl_1): S5-18. doi:10.1148/rg.26si065505 - Pubmed citation
Synonyms & Alternative Spellings
|Synonyms or Alternative Spelling||Include in Listings?|
|Dural sinus thrombosis||✗|
|Thrombosis of dural venous sinuses||✗|