CT diagnosis of cerebral venous thrombosis: Importance of the first examination for fast treatment

L. M. Palena, F. Toni, V. Piscitelli, M. Maffei, Marco Leonardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study is a retrospective investigation of the role of non contrast-enhanced CT (NCCT) in the diagnosis of cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT) in clinical practice. We retrospectively identified 24 patients discharged with a diagnosis of CVT between January 2002 and December 2008 who had undergone NCCT as the first imaging modality. NCCT had been evaluated by a general radiologist and subsequently by a neuroradiologist in five cases. Final diagnosis was established by CT angiography (CTA), magnetic resonance (MR) and digital subtraction angiography (DSA). NCCT diagnosis was defined as "positive" when the neuroradiologist suggested the diagnosis of CVT on the report, as opposed to the "negative" diagnosis group. All NCCT examinations were reviewed by a neuroradiologist experienced in cerebrovascular pathology. We compared his evaluation and analysed the location and number of direct signs found on NCCT. The neuroradiologist strongly suggested an NCCT diagnosis of CVT in 63% (15/24) of patients: 80% (4/5) with deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and 57% (11/19) with sinus venous thrombosis (SVT). The general radiologist's NCCT evaluation was incorrect in four cases, subsequently diagnosed at NCCT by the neuroradiologist. After reviewing the NCCT examination the experienced neuroradiologist identified the CVT direct sign in two that belonged to the NCCT negative diagnosis group. Thus the direct sign was present in 71% (17/24) of the cases: all the patients with DVT and 63% (12/19) of the patients with SVT. NCCT still plays an important role for fast and accurate diagnosis of CVT in the emergency setting. NCCT displayed the CVT direct sign more frequently than previously thought and it was correctly interpreted in most cases. Neuroradiological consultation adds value to the general radiologist's evaluation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-149
Number of pages13
JournalNeuroradiology Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009


  • Cerebral venous thrombosis
  • CT
  • Early diagnosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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