EFNS guideline on the treatment of cerebral venous and sinus thrombosis in adult patients

Eur J Neurol. 2010 Oct;17(10):1229-35. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-1331.2010.03011.x.


Background: Cerebral venous and sinus thrombosis (CVST) is a rather rare disease which accounts for <1% of all strokes. Diagnosis is still frequently overlooked or delayed as a result of the wide spectrum of clinical symptoms and the often subacute or lingering onset. Current therapeutic measures which are used in clinical practice include the use of anticoagulants such as dose-adjusted intravenous heparin or body weight-adjusted subcutaneous low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH), the use of thrombolysis and symptomatic therapy including control of seizures and elevated intracranial pressure.

Methods: We searched MEDLINE (National Library of Medicine), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) and the Cochrane Library to review the strength of evidence to support these interventions and the preparation of recommendations on the therapy of CVST based on the best available evidence. Review articles and book chapters were also included. Recommendations were reached by consensus. Where there was a lack of evidence but consensus was clear we stated our opinion as good practice points.

Results and conclusions: Patients with CVST without contraindications for anticoagulation (AC) should be treated either with body weight-adjusted subcutaneous LMWH or with dose-adjusted intravenous heparin (level B recommendation). Concomitant intracranial haemorrhage (ICH) related to CVST is not a contraindication for heparin therapy. The optimal duration of oral anticoagulant therapy after the acute phase is unclear. Oral AC may be given for 3 months if CVST was secondary to a transient risk factor, for 6-12 months in patients with idiopathic CVST and in those with "mild" thrombophilia, such as heterozygous factor V Leiden or prothrombin G20210A mutation and high plasma levels of factor VIII. Indefinite AC should be considered in patients with recurrent episodes of CVST and in those with one episode of CVST and 'severe' thrombophilia, such as antithrombin, protein C or protein S deficiency, homozygous factor V Leiden or prothrombin G20210A mutation, antiphospholipid antibodies and combined abnormalities (good practice point). There is insufficient evidence to support the use of either systemic or local thrombolysis in patients with CVST. If patients deteriorate despite adequate AC and other causes of deterioration have been ruled out, thrombolysis may be a therapeutic option in selected cases, possibly in those without large ICH and threatening herniation (good practice point). There are no controlled data about the risks and benefits of certain therapeutic measures to reduce an elevated intracranial pressure (with brain displacement) in patients with severe CVST. However, in severe cases with impending herniation craniectomy can be used as a life-saving intervention (good practice point).

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Advisory Committees / standards*
  • Anticoagulants / administration & dosage
  • Anticoagulants / standards
  • Contraindications
  • Germany
  • Heparin / administration & dosage
  • Heparin / standards
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / standards
  • Sinus Thrombosis, Intracranial / diagnosis
  • Sinus Thrombosis, Intracranial / drug therapy
  • Sinus Thrombosis, Intracranial / therapy*
  • Societies, Medical / standards*
  • Thrombolytic Therapy / standards
  • Venous Thrombosis / diagnosis
  • Venous Thrombosis / drug therapy
  • Venous Thrombosis / therapy*


  • Anticoagulants
  • Heparin