What is Cerebral Venous Thrombosis?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Patients with cerebral venous thrombosis commonly develop severe headaches.
Patients with cerebral venous thrombosis commonly develop severe headaches.

Cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT) is a neurological condition in which a clot in one of the blood vessels in the brain impedes the free flow of blood. Classically, CVT occurs in the dural venous sinuses which drain blood from the brain. Patients with this condition commonly develop stroke-like symptoms such as confusion, weakness, and dizziness, and they can also experience vision problems and headaches, including severe headaches of sudden onset known as thunderclap headaches. Like other neurological conditions, the prognosis improves when the patient receives treatment early.

Patients with cerebral venous thrombosis often develop stroke-like symptoms such as confusion.
Patients with cerebral venous thrombosis often develop stroke-like symptoms such as confusion.

The causes of cerebral venous thrombosis are variable. In some cases, the condition is a complication of a disease or injury. Patients with certain diseases and injuries are more at risk of developing cerebral venous thrombosis, and their doctors may monitor them for early signs of thrombosis. At other times, the condition appears to be spontaneous in nature, but a doctor will usually recommend diagnostic testing and investigation to see if a cause can be determined, as it may be necessary to treat the cause to resolve the thrombosis.

Blood tests may be performed to diagnose thrombosis.
Blood tests may be performed to diagnose thrombosis.

Having a headache tends to make it easier to diagnose cerebral venous thrombosis, but headaches do not present in all patients. People should definitely take note of neurological changes they observe in themselves and others, so that prompt diagnosis and treatment can be provided for neurological disorders such as CVT. Neurologists would usually prefer to see a patient without a problem and pronounce a clean bill of health than to see a patient too late because someone was afraid of bothering the doctor.

Patients suffering from cerebral venous thrombosis may experience dizziness.
Patients suffering from cerebral venous thrombosis may experience dizziness.

When patients develop the symptoms of cerebral venous thrombosis, several diagnostic tools can be used to accurately diagnose the patient. In a neurological exam, a doctor can confirm that a patient is having a neurological problem and learn more about the location of the problem. Imaging studies of the brain can reveal occlusions and other abnormalities which can be used to create a more complete diagnostic picture of the patient. Arteriograms, in which the blood vessels are studied, can be especially useful.

The recommended treatment for cerebral venous thrombosis is the administration of anticoagulant medications. These medications will break up the clot, allowing blood to flow through the blood vessels again. A doctor may also recommend vasodilators which will widen the blood vessels. Once the patient shows signs of improvement, another imaging study may be ordered to confirm that the clot has been resolved.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • Patients with cerebral venous thrombosis commonly develop severe headaches.
      By: jedi-master
      Patients with cerebral venous thrombosis commonly develop severe headaches.
    • Patients with cerebral venous thrombosis often develop stroke-like symptoms such as confusion.
      By: olly
      Patients with cerebral venous thrombosis often develop stroke-like symptoms such as confusion.
    • Blood tests may be performed to diagnose thrombosis.
      By: Alexander Gospodinov
      Blood tests may be performed to diagnose thrombosis.
    • Patients suffering from cerebral venous thrombosis may experience dizziness.
      By: Burlingham
      Patients suffering from cerebral venous thrombosis may experience dizziness.