Cavernous sinus thrombosis

By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor


What is cavernous sinus thrombosis?

Cavernous sinus thrombosis is a type of condition that is very rare, life-threatening and can affect adults as well as children.

In cavernous sinus thrombosis, a blood clot blocks a vein that runs through a hollow space underneath the brain and behind the eye sockets. These veins play a role in carrying blood from the face and head back to the heart.

The cause of cavernous sinus thrombosis is commonly an infection. But other factors may also contribute.

This infection is life-threatening and requires immediate treatment, which usually includes antibiotics and sometimes surgical drainage

How common is cavernous sinus thrombosis?

Occurrence of cavernous sinus thrombosis has always been low, with only a few hundred case reports. Everyone can be affected by this condition with the same rate.

However, it can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of cavernous sinus thrombosis?

There are a number of signs and symptoms of cavernous sinus thrombosis. These listed below are considered as the most common ones, include:

  • Severe headache
  • Swelling, redness, or irritation around one or both eyes
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Inability to move the eye
  • High fever
  • Pain or numbness around the face or eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Vision loss or double vision
  • Seizures

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consulting with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.


What causes cavernous sinus thrombosis?

An infection is believed as the typical cause of cavernous sinus thrombosis. The infection has spread beyond the face, sinuses, or teeth. Less commonly, infections of the ears or eyes may also cause cavernous sinus thrombosis.

To contain the infection, the body’s immune system produces a clot to prevent bacteria or other pathogens from spreading. The clot increases pressure inside the brain. This pressure can damage the brain and may eventually cause death.

In some rare case, cavernous sinus thrombosis may also be caused by a severe blow to the head.

Cavernous sinus thrombosis is more common in people who take certain medications or who have underlying health conditions that may increase their risk for blood clots.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for cavernous sinus thrombosis?

Depending on you are adults or children, your risk may be different.  You may have higher risks for this condition if you are experiencing these following conditions:


  • Pregnancy and the first few weeks after delivery
  • Problems with blood clotting; for example, antiphospholipid syndrome, protein C and S deficiency, antithrombin III deficiency, lupus anticoagulant, or factor V Leiden mutation
  • Cancer
  • Collagen vascular diseases like lupus, Wegener’s granulomatosis, and Behcet syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Low blood pressure in the brain (intracranial hypotension)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis


  • Problems with the way their blood forms clots
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Chronic hemolytic anemia
  • Beta-thalassemia major
  • Heart disease — either congenital (you’re born with it) or acquired (you develop it)
  • Iron deficiency
  • Certain infections
  • Dehydration
  • Head injury
  • For newborns, a mother who had certain infections or a history of infertility

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is cavernous sinus thrombosis diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects that you may experience this condition, a physical examination will be performed and some tests will be also recommended by your doctor. These tests may include:

  • MRI scan
  • CT scan

Sinus films are helpful in the diagnosis of sphenoid sinusitis. Opacification, sclerosis, and air-fluid levels are typical findings. Contrast-enhanced CT scan may reveal underlying sinusitis, thickening of the superior ophthalmic vein, and irregular filling defects within the cavernous sinus; however, findings may be normal early in the disease course.

  • Venography
  • Angiography
  • Ultrasound
  • Blood tests

How is cavernous sinus thrombosis treated?

Treatment should begin immediately and must be done in a hospital. Some recommended treatment option may be suggested by your doctor include:

  • Fluids
  • Antibiotics, if an infection is present

Antibiotics are the primary treatment for cavernous sinus thrombosis. Treatment will be started as soon as possible, even before tests have confirmed if a bacterial infection is responsible. If tests later show that a bacterial infection didn’t cause the condition, antibiotic treatment may be stopped.

Most people will require at least a three- to four-week course of antibiotics to ensure the infection has been fully cleared from their body. Doctors treat cavernous sinus thrombosis with high-dose antibiotics. These are usually given though an IV drip

  • Antiseizure medicine to control seizures if they have occurred
  • Monitoring and controlling the pressure inside the head
  • Medicine called anticoagulants to stop the blood from clotting
  • Surgery
  • Continued monitoring of brain activity
  • Measuring visual acuity and monitoring change
  • Rehabilitation

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage cavernous sinus thrombosis?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with cavernous sinus thrombosis:

  • Eat healthy foods. Eat a healthy diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Increase physical activity
  • Limit alcohol
  • Don’t smoke
  • Manage stress
  • Practice relaxation or slow, deep breathing

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Review Date: August 8, 2017 | Last Modified: September 12, 2019

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