Acute treatment of cerebral venous and dural sinus thrombosis

José M Ferro, Patrícia Canhão
Current Treatment Options in Neurology 2008, 10 (2): 126-37
Management of thrombosis of the dural sinus and cerebral veins (CVT) includes treatment of the underlying condition, antithrombotic treatment, symptomatic treatment, and the prevention or treatment of complications. Intravenous heparin or subcutaneous low-molecular-weight heparin should be used in acute CVT to prevent thrombus propagation and pulmonary embolism and to increase the chances of recanalization. Anticoagulation is safe and can be used in patients with acute CVT who have intracranial hemorrhagic lesions. Endovascular thrombolysis (with or without mechanical thrombus disruption) is an experimental treatment to be used in experienced centers for severe cases or patients who fail to improve on anticoagulation. Local thrombolysis is not useful in patients with large infarcts and impending herniation. In patients with severe headache and papilledema, intracranial hypertension can be reduced and symptoms relieved through a therapeutic lumbar puncture. Hemicraniectomy may be lifesaving in patients with parenchymal lesions leading to herniation. In patients with acute seizures and supratentorial lesions, antiepileptic drugs should be prescribed. Prophylactic use of these drugs can also be considered for patients with one of these risk factors but should be avoided in patients with neither of them. To reduce the risk of recurrent deep venous thrombosis of the limbs, vitamin K antagonists are given for a variable period depending on the patient's inherent risk of thrombosis, aiming at an International Normalized Ratio of 2 to 3.5. If CVT is related to a transient risk factor (eg, pregnancy, infection), we recommend anticoagulants for 3 months. In patients with idiopathic CVT or CVT associated with "mild" thrombophilia, the period of anticoagulation must be extended to 6 to 12 months. In patients with "severe" thrombophilia (eg, two or more prothrombotic abnormalities or antiphospholipid syndrome), anticoagulants should be given for life. Patients with persistent symptoms of increased intracranial hypertension, visual loss, or both can be treated with repeated lumbar punctures or a lumboperitoneal shunt. For the prevention of remote seizures, antiepileptic drugs are recommended for patients with seizures in the acute phase and for those who experience a seizure after the acute phase. These drugs can also be considered for patients without seizures who have supratentorial hemorrhagic lesions or motor deficits.

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