Skip navigation

Cavernous sinus thrombosis

Cavernous sinus thrombosis is a blood clot in an area at the base of the brain that contains a vein, which carries blood from the brain to the heart. This area is called the cavernous sinus.

Causes

Cavernous sinus thrombosis is usually caused by a bacterial infection that has spread from the sinuses, teeth, ears, eyes, nose, or skin of the face.

You are more likely to get this condition if you have an increased risk of blood clots.

Symptoms

  • Bulging eyeball, usually on one side of face
  • Cannot move the eye in a particular direction
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Headaches
  • Vision loss

Exams and Tests

Tests that may be ordered include:

  • CT scan of the head
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain
  • Magnetic resonance venogram
  • Sinus x-ray

Treatment

Cavernous sinus thrombosis is treated with high-dose antibiotics given through a vein (IV).

Sometimes surgery is needed to drain the infection.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Cavernous sinus thrombosis can be deadly if left untreated.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your doctor right away if you have:

  • Bulging of your eyes
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Eye pain
  • Inability to move your eye in any particular direction
  • Vision loss

References

Nath A, Berger J. Brain abscess and parameningeal infection. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 421.

Update Date: 2/24/2014

Updated by: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

A.D.A.M Quality Logo

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 1997-2014, A.D.A.M., Inc. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized in writing by ADAM Health Solutions.

A.D.A.M Logo