Cerebral venous thrombosis: state of the art diagnosis and management

Neuroradiology. 2018 Jul;60(7):669-685. doi: 10.1007/s00234-018-2032-2. Epub 2018 May 11.


Purpose: This review article aims to discuss the pathophysiology, clinical presentation, and neuroimaging of cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT). Different approaches for diagnosis of CVT, including CT/CTV, MRI/MRV, and US will be discussed and the reader will become acquainted with imaging findings as well as limitations of each modality. Lastly, this exhibit will review the standard of care for CVT treatment and emerging endovascular options.

Methods: A literature search using PubMed and the MEDLINE subengine was completed using the terms "cerebral venous thrombosis," "stroke," and "imaging." Studies reporting on the workup, imaging characteristics, clinical history, and management of patients with CVT were included.

Results: The presentation of CVT is often non-specific and requires a high index of clinical suspicion. Signs of CVT on NECT can be divided into indirect signs (edema, parenchymal hemorrhage, subarachnoid hemorrhage, and rarely subdural hematomas) and less commonly direct signs (visualization of dense thrombus within a vein or within the cerebral venous sinuses). Confirmation is performed with CTV, directly demonstrating the thrombus as a filling defect, or MRI/MRV, which also provides superior characterization of parenchymal abnormalities. General pitfalls and anatomic variants will also be discussed. Lastly, endovascular management options including thrombolysis and mechanical thrombectomy are discussed.

Conclusions: CVT is a relatively uncommon phenomenon and frequently overlooked at initial presentation. Familiarity with imaging features and diagnostic work-up of CVT will help in providing timely diagnosis and therapy which can significantly improve outcome and diminish the risk of acute and long-term complications, optimizing patient care.

Keywords: Algorithm; Neurovascular; Review; Venous stroke; Venous thrombosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Veins / diagnostic imaging*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Thrombosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Intracranial Thrombosis / physiopathology*
  • Intracranial Thrombosis / therapy*
  • Venous Thrombosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Venous Thrombosis / physiopathology*
  • Venous Thrombosis / therapy*