Cerebral Venous Thrombosis: An Uncommon Cause of Papilledema on Bedside Ocular Ultrasound

J Emerg Med. 2019 Mar;56(3):288-293. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2018.10.036. Epub 2018 Dec 8.


Background: Cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT) is a rare, difficult-to-diagnose form of venous thromboembolic disease and is considered a type of stroke. Its presentation is highly variable and may be easily confused for more common and less debilitating or life-threatening diagnoses such as migraine, seizure, or idiopathic intracranial hypertension.

Case report: A 25-year-old woman presented with a complaint of bifrontal throbbing headache and blurry vision. A bedside ultrasound of the orbit suggested increased intracranial pressure. A subsequent computed tomography venogram demonstrated a left transverse sinus thrombosis. The patient was started on enoxaparin and admitted for bridging to warfarin and evaluation for hypercoagulable state. WHY SHOULD AN EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN BE AWARE OF THIS?: CVT is a rare form of stroke that carries a high rate of mortality and morbidity and masquerades as more common and benign diagnoses. Emergency department bedside ultrasound of the orbit may make the diagnosis of CVT more attainable by identifying patients with increased intracranial pressure.

Keywords: POCUS; cerebral venous sinus thrombosis; cerebral venous thrombosis; dural venous thrombosis; headache; intracranial hypertension; ocular ultrasound; optic nerve sheath diameter; papilledema.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / therapeutic use
  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / therapeutic use
  • Anesthetics, Local / therapeutic use
  • Cerebral Veins / abnormalities*
  • Cerebral Veins / physiopathology
  • Computed Tomography Angiography / methods
  • Diphenhydramine / therapeutic use
  • Dopamine Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Headache / etiology
  • Humans
  • Orbit / abnormalities*
  • Orbit / physiopathology
  • Papilledema / diagnosis
  • Papilledema / etiology*
  • Prochlorperazine / therapeutic use
  • Ultrasonography / methods
  • Venous Thrombosis / complications
  • Venous Thrombosis / diagnosis*
  • Vision Disorders / etiology


  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic
  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Dopamine Antagonists
  • Acetaminophen
  • Diphenhydramine
  • Prochlorperazine