Imaging of cerebral venous thrombosis

Diagn Interv Imaging. 2014 Dec;95(12):1145-50. doi: 10.1016/j.diii.2014.10.006. Epub 2014 Nov 24.


Cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT) is a potentially life-threatening emergency. The wide ranging of clinical symptoms makes the use of imaging in "slices" even more important for diagnosis. Both CT and MRI are used to diagnose the occlusion of a venous sinus, but MRI is superior to CT for detecting a clot in the cortical or deep veins. CT can show the hyperintense clot spontaneously and CT angiography the intraluminal defect. MRI also detects this thrombus, whose signal varies over time: in the acute phase, it is hypointense in T2*, whilst T1 and T2 can appear falsely reassuring; in the subacute phase, it is hyperintense on all sequences (T1, T2, FLAIR, T2*, diffusion). MRI easily shows the ischemic damage, even hemorrhagic, in the cerebral parenchyma in cases of CVT. Finally, imaging may reveal pathology at the origin of the CVT, such as a fracture of the skull, infection, tumor, dural fistula, or intracranial hypotension.

Keywords: CT scan; Cerebral venous thrombosis; MRI.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cerebral Angiography*
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / diagnosis
  • Cerebral Veins* / pathology
  • Cranial Sinuses / pathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Thrombosis / diagnosis*
  • Intracranial Thrombosis / etiology
  • Lateral Sinus Thrombosis / diagnosis
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Venous Thrombosis / diagnosis*