Background and purpose: Despite ongoing improvements in noninvasive imaging techniques, transcranial color-coded duplex sonography (TCCS) has so far been used only on a limited basis in patients with cerebral venous thrombosis. We evaluated the diagnostic value of both noncontrast and contrast-enhanced TCCS by comparing normal volunteers and patients with acute cerebral venous thrombosis.
Methods: In 75 healthy volunteers (aged 45.8+/-17.4 years), normal values for the deep cerebral veins (DCVs) and the posterior fossa sinuses were established by transtemporal insonation. Eight patients with cerebral venous thrombosis were assessed by TCCS, through which the hemodynamics of the DCVs were measured, and the patients were followed-up over a period of between 33 and 387 days after examination. MR angiography served as the "gold standard" technique for confirming the venous status in all 8 patients.
Results: No side differences in flow velocities were detected in the paired venous structures in normal volunteers. As indirect signs of (and diagnostic criteria for) cerebral venous thrombosis, pathologically increased flow velocities or significant side differences in the DCVs were registered in 5 of the 8 patients; the other patients showed nonsignificant increases in flow velocity which decreased over time. During follow-up, the status of the posterior fossa sinuses could be diagnosed correctly in seven patients after contrast enhancement when these results were compared with those of venous MR angiography. In 1 patient, a partial recanalization was mistakenly diagnosed as an occlusion.
Conclusions: TCCS allows a reliable evaluation of the major DCVs and posterior fossa sinuses. The anterior and mid portions of the superior sagittal sinus and cortical veins cannot be assessed. Increased venous blood flow velocity can be used as an indirect criterion for indicating a cerebral venous thrombosis. Clinical recovery coincided with decreases in blood flow velocity in the series of patients investigated in this study.