Cerebral Venous Thrombosis

By Medically reviewed by Panel Perubatan Hello Doktor

In this article:

  • Knowing the basics
  • Identifying the symptoms
  • Reducing the risk factors
  • Understanding the diagnosis & treatment

Knowing the basics

What is cerebral venous thrombosis?

Cerebral venous thrombosis is a blood clot of the brain’s cerebral vein, which is responsible for draining blood from the brain. If blood collects in this vein, it will begin to leak into the brain tissue and cause a hemorrhage or severe brain swelling.

When detected early, it can be treated without causing life-threatening complications.

Identifying the symptoms

What are the signs and symptoms?

A blood clot in a cerebral vein can cause pressure that leads to brain swelling. This pressure can cause headaches or damage brain tissue in more severe cases.

Symptoms may vary depending on where the blood clot occurs in the brain. However, more common symptoms can include:

  • Severe headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

If you are experiencing a more severe case of cerebral venous thrombosis, you may bear stroke-like symptoms. These may include:

  • Speech impairment
  • Numbness on one-half of the body
  • Weakness
  • Decreased alertness

If you begin experiencing any of these symptoms, head to an emergency ward immediately.

Other symptoms from severe thrombosis include:

  • Fainting
  • Limited mobility in parts of your body
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Fatality

Reducing the risk factors

What are the factors that increase the risk of cerebral venous thrombosis?

Cerebral venous thrombosis occurs when blood clots form in the brain’s venous sinuses. Though it is an uncommon condition, it can be triggered by a number of factors.

Some of the most common risk factors include:

  • Birth control or excess estrogen use
  • Ear, face or neck infection
  • Protein deficiencies
  • Head trauma or injury
  • Obesity
  • Cancer
  • Tumor

Less common risk factors of include pregnancy and other blood clotting disorders. Both conditions can make blood clot easily, affecting proper blood flow throughout the body and brain.

In infants, the most common cause of cerebral venous thrombosis is infection, specifically in the ear. The causes of some cerebral venous thrombosis cases are still unknown.

If left untreated, it can have life-threatening consequences.

Understanding the diagnosis & treatment

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

How is cerebral venous thrombosis diagnosed?

When diagnosing cerebral venous thrombosis, doctors will evaluate the symptoms that you experience and enquire about your medical and family history. However, a proper diagnosis depends on the blood circulation in your brain, which the doctors may study using imaging tests to detect blood clots and swelling.

A doctor may misdiagnose a case of cerebral venous thrombosis if they use the wrong test. 

The recommended imaging tests to help detect cerebral venous thrombosis are:

  • MRI venogram. An MRI venogram, which is also referred to as a Magnetic Resonance Venogram (MRV), is an imaging test that produces images of the blood vessels in the head and neck area. It can help evaluate blood circulation, irregularities, strokes or brain bleeds. During an MRI, doctors will inject a special contrast agent into your bloodstream to display blood flow and help determine blood clots.
  • CT venogram. Computed tomography (CT) scans use X-ray imaging to show bones and arterial vessels. Combined with a venogram, doctors will inject a dye into the veins to produce images of blood circulation and help detect blood clotting.

How is cerebral venous thrombosis treated?

Cerebral venous thrombosis treatment options depend on the severity of the condition. Primary treatment recommendations focus on preventing or dissolving blood clots in the brain.

Medication

Doctors may prescribe anticoagulants or blood thinners to help prevent blood clotting and any further growth of the clot. The most commonly prescribed drug is heparin, which is injected directly into the veins or under the skin.

Once the doctor thinks you are stable, they may recommend an oral blood thinner (such as warfarin) as a periodic treatment. This can help prevent recurrent blood clots, especially if you experience blood clotting disorder.

Other than helping to prevent blood clots, the doctor would also address the symptoms of cerebral venous thrombosis. If you have experienced a seizure from this condition, the doctor would prescribe anti-seizure medication to help control seizures in the future. Similarly, if you begin to experience stroke-like symptoms, the doctor would give you advice on the best treatments available.

Monitoring

In all cases of cerebral venous thrombosis, the doctor would monitor brain activity. Other venograms and imaging tests may be recommended to assess thrombosis and ensure that there are no additional clots. Follow-ups are also crucial to ensure you do not develop clotting disorders, tumors or other complications from cerebral venous thrombosis. The doctor would perform additional blood tests to see if you have any clotting disorders.

Surgery

In more severe cases of cerebral venous thrombosis, the doctor may recommend surgery to remove the blood clot and fix the blood vessel. This procedure is referred to as thrombectomy.

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

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