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Sinuses
Sinuses


Definition:

Cavernous sinus thrombosis is a blood clot in the cavernous sinus. The cavernous sinus is a cavity at the base of the brain that contains a vein, several nerves, and other structures. The vein carries deoxygenated blood from the brain and face back to the heart.

The vein and cavity run between the large bone at the base of the skull (sphenoid bone) and temporal bone (near the temple).



Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

The cause of cavernous sinus thrombosis is usually a bacterial infection that has spread from the sinuses, ears, eyes, nose, or skin of the face.



Symptoms:
  • Bulging eyeballs
  • Cannot move the eye in a particular direction
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Vision loss


Signs and tests:

Tests that may be ordered include:

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


Treatment:

Cavernous sinus thrombosis is treated with high-dose intravenous (through a vein) antibiotics. Sometimes surgery is needed to drain the infection.



Support Groups:



Expectations (prognosis):

Cavernous sinus thrombosis can be fatal. However, the death rate of this condition has improved tremendously since the introduction of antibiotics.



Complications:



Calling your health care provider:

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


Prevention:



References:

Goldman L, Ausiello D. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders; 2007:2717.




Review Date: 8/18/2008
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. James R. Mason, MD, Oncologist, Director, Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program and Stem Cell Processing Lab, Scripps Clinic, Torrey Pines, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional 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. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
789 Central Avenue, Dover, NH 03820
Phone: (603) 742-5252
Toll free: 1 (877) 201-7100