Hypointense thrombus on T2-weighted MR imaging: a potential pitfall in the diagnosis of dural sinus thrombosis

Eur J Radiol. 2002 Feb;41(2):147-52. doi: 10.1016/s0720-048x(01)00365-5.


Purpose: To determine the frequency of hypointense appearance of dural sinus thrombosis on T2-weighted images, which may mimic a normal flow void, and when possible correlate with appearance on T1-weighted images.

Methods and materials: Retrospective review of radiology files showed 51 patients with a discharge diagnosis of dural sinus thrombosis who underwent MR imaging during the period 1986-1998. These images were reviewed by an experienced neuroradiologist for appearance on T2-weighted images. This process yielded five cases in which a hypointense appearance on this pulse sequence simulated a normal flow void. An additional two cases were added from the teaching files of two other institutions giving a total of seven cases (13% of studies). The resulting study population consisted of five women and two men (mean age 27.1 years). T1 weighted images were available in five patients. In two patients MR venography was available, but not T1-weighted images. The diagnosis of dural sinus thrombosis was based solely on absence of flow void on T1-weighted images in one case, solely on absence of flow void on MR venography in two cases and absence of flow void on T1-weighted images in conjunction with MR venography or gradient echo findings in 4 patients. All images were obtained on a 1.5 T magnet (GE Medical Systems; Milwaukee, Wisconsin).

Results: In all patients hypointense signal of thrombus was isointense with normal flow voids in other dural sinuses on T2-weighted images. In all cases in which T1-weighted images were available, the signal intensity of thrombus was isointense to gray matter.

Conclusion: Hypointense appearance of thrombus on T2-weighted images is a potential pitfall in the MR diagnosis of dural sinus thrombosis. Because thrombus in this stage of evolution appears isointense to gray matter on T1-weighted images, careful attention must be paid to other sequences to avoid this pitfall.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain / pathology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cranial Sinuses / pathology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Headache / etiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sinus Thrombosis, Intracranial / complications
  • Sinus Thrombosis, Intracranial / diagnosis*