Diagnostic pitfall: Atypical cerebral venous drainage via the vertebral venous system

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlín, Berlin, Germany
American Journal of Neuroradiology (Impact Factor: 3.59). 04/2002; 23(3):408-11.
Source: PubMed


We report a case of atypical cerebral venous drainage in a 38-year-old woman with symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. Thrombosis of the left internal jugular vein and sigmoid sinus was suspected on the basis of spin-echo and time-of-flight MR findings, but multisection CT angiograms showed a patent sigmoid sinus and predominant drainage via the emissary veins toward the vertebral plexus, with only a minor contribution of the jugular veins. This case illustrates the variability of the venous anatomy in the craniocervical region.

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    ABSTRACT: Purpose: We assessed the prevalence of the clinically important posterior fossa emissary veins detected on computed tomography (CT) angiography. Materials and Methods: A total of 182 consecutive patients who underwent 64-slice CT angiography were retrospectively reviewed to determine the clinically important posterior fossa emissary veins. Results: Of 166 patients, the mastoid emissary vein (MEV) was not identified in 37 (22.3%) patients. It was found bilaterally in 82 (49.4%) and unilaterally in 47 (28.3%) patients. Only six patients had more than one MEV that were very small (<2 mm), and only five patients had very large (>5 mm) veins. The posterior condylar vein (PCV) was not identified in 39 (23.5%) patients. It was found bilaterally in 97 (58.4%) and unilaterally in 30 (18.1%) patients. Only 15 patients had a very large (>5 mm) PCV. The petrosquamosal sinus (PSS) was identified only in one patient (0.6%) on the left side. The occipital sinus was found in two patients (1.2%). Conclusions: The presence of the clinically important posterior fossa emissary veins is not rare. Posterior fossa emissary veins should be identified and systematically reported, especially prior to surgeries involving the posterior fossa and mastoid region.
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