Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis - Diagnostic Strategies and Prognostic Models: A Review
In 1825, Ribes described a case of a 45-year old man who died after a 6-month history of epilepsy, seizures and delirium. The autopsy examination revealed thrombosis of the superior sagittal sinus, the left lateral sinus and a cortical vein in the parietal region. This was probably the first detailed description of extensive cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST). Since then, the literature describing this disease has comprised of case reports, series and some newer prospective studies, including recent reviews and guidelines (statement) on the diagnosis and management of CVST (Siddiqui & Kamal, 2006; Stam, 2005; Saposnik et al, 2011; Brown & Thore, 2011).
The cerebral venous sinus thrombosis is a challenging condition and it is most common than previously thought. CVST accounts for 0.5% to 1.0% of all strokes and usually affects young individuals. Important advances have been made in the understanding of the pathophysiology of this vascular disorder. The diagnosis of CVST is still frequently overlooked or delayed as a result of the wide spectrum of clinical symptoms and the often sub-acute or lingering onset. Patients with CVST commonly present with headache, although some develop a focal neurological deficit, decreased level of consciousness, seizures, or intracranial hypertension without focal neurological signs. Uncommonly, an insidious onset may create a diagnostic challenge. The main problem of this disorder is that it is very often unrecognised at initial presentation. In particular, a prothrombotic factor or a direct cause is identified in approximately 66% of the CVST patients (a list of most important causal and risk factors are listed in Table 1).
Cerebral venous thrombosis is more common in women than men, with a female to male ratio of 3:1 (cited in Ferro & Canhao, 2011). The imbalance may be due to the increased risk of CVST associated with pregnancy and puerperium and with oral contraceptives. The female predominance in CVST is found in young adults, but not in children or older adults.