Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis in a Young Female Misdiagnosed as Migraine Ending in a Permanent Vegetative State

A Case Report and Review of the Literature

Sana Alshurafa; Wadiah Alfilfil; Ayah Alshurafa; Khadijah Alhashim


J Med Case Reports. 2018;12(323) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background: Cerebral venous thrombosis refers to acute thrombosis or blood clots that can lead to strokes. This illness can be misdiagnosed as a migraine, resulting in a delay in management and catastrophic outcomes. We present a pitfall case that highlights the importance of careful history taking and physician awareness in diagnosing cerebral venous thrombosis.

Case presentation: A recently married, previously healthy, young Arabic female presented to the emergency department three times with a complaint of throbbing frontal headache for the past 2 days with no neurological deficit. During her first two visits, she was seen by a junior general practitioner and was prescribed analgesics only as her migraine was precipitated by oral contraceptives and low hemoglobin. No imaging was requested during that visit. At the third visit, she underwent plain computed tomography of the head that was interpreted by an emergency consultant, who revealed the diagnosis despite limited resources. Unfortunately, the patient developed complications of the hydrocephalus, transtentorial brain herniation, and intraventricular hemorrhage that required multiple neurosurgical interventions and resulted in a permanent vegetative state.

Conclusions: Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis is an uncommon and tricky condition with unpredictable presentation and prognosis. A physician needs to have a high index of suspicion to diagnose it, especially when the patient presents with uncomplicated complaints. These simple complaints, such as headaches, usually lead to misdiagnosis and delay the appropriate diagnosis and management.