Caput medusae sign - developmental venous anomalies

Last revised by Dr Yahya Baba on 26 Jul 2021

The caput medusae sign refers to developmental venous anomalies of the brain, where a number of veins drain centrally towards a single drain vein. The appearance is reminiscent of Medusa, a gorgon of Greek mythology, who was encountered and defeated by Perseus.

The sign is seen on both CT and MRI when contrast is administered. Angiographically the caput medusae appearance is seen only in the venous phase.

The association with cavernous hemangiomas defines this as a mixed vascular malformation.

History and etymology

The appearance is reminiscent of Medusa, a gorgon of Greek mythology, who was encountered and defeated by Perseus.

See also

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: Medusa by Carvaggio
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  • Case 1: DVA's with caput medusae
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  • Case 2
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  • Case 3
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  • Case 4
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  • Case 5
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  • Case 6
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