The diagnosis of cerebral venous thrombosis is often difficult both clinically and radiologically and until now there is no method available to predict if brain lesions, detected clinically and using conventional brain imaging methods, may lead to full recovery, as expected in vasogenic edema or ischemic infarcts and even a hematoma. New fast neuroimaging techniques such as diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) are sensitive to different reasons of changes in local tissular water concentration thus giving further insight into the pathophysiological mechanism as well as prognosis of cerebral venous thrombosis. We report the cases of 18 consecutive patients with a diagnosis of cerebral venous thrombosis based on clinical and imaging criteria. All patients underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain, which comprised isotropic diffusion-weighted MR. Diffusion-weighted MRI showed positive findings in 17/18 cases. In 7 cases the clot could be directly visualized as an area of hyperintensity in the affected vein on DWI. In 7 cases DWI showed areas of signal loss corresponding to hematomas. In 6 cases DWI showed changes in signal intensity that were more subtle. In 4 cases of superficial venous thrombosis, there were areas of decreased ADC values (0.65-0.79 x 10(-3) mm(2)/s) whereas in 2 cases of deep venous thrombosis, increased DWI intensities could be found that corresponded to both an increase and a decrease in ADC, corresponding to a coexistence of cytotoxic and vasogenic edemas. Diffusion-weighted MRI can demonstrate directly the presence of an intravenous clot in a select number of patients. It can also demonstrate early ischemic changes, and can differentiate conventional T2-weighted MR areas of cytotoxic from vasogenic edema.
Copyright 2001 S. Karger AG, Basel