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Ear Nose Throat J. 1997 Jul;76(7):436-41.

Use of magnetic resonance imaging and magnetic resonance angiography in diagnosis of sigmoid sinus thrombosis.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA.


Magnetic resonance angiography is an established radiologic technique which is rapidly becoming useful in imaging the head and neck. Currently, this imaging modality is important in the diagnosis of sigmoid sinus thrombosis caused by otologic disease. Since the introduction of antibiotic therapy, the percentage of deaths attributed to intracranial complications from otitic disease has decreased from 2.5 to approximately 0.25% of documented deaths. Also, the incidence of sinus thrombosis within this group has decreased, but it is still a serious and potentially lethal condition. Sinus thrombosis is suspected clinically when mastoid disease progresses, with picket fence fever pattern, chills, headaches and signs of papilledema. Definitive diagnosis is necessary before surgical treatment. The Queckenstedt test is unreliable, computed tomography is better suited for demonstrating thrombosis of the sagittal sinus rather than the sigmoid sinus, and conventional angiography (although it provides excellent visualization) has the hazard of ionizing radiation and requires vessel puncture and the use of intraarterial contrast agents. We present two cases of thrombosis of the sigmoid sinus as an intracranial otologic complication which were diagnosed definitively with magnetic resonance imaging and magnetic resonance angiography. The combination of magnetic resonance imaging, which showed the thrombosis displaying abnormal signal intensity, and magnetic resonance angiography, which demonstrated the absence of flow in the sinus, was an ideal diagnostic tool. For both patients, treatment consisted of mastoidectomy, sigmoid sinus decompression and antibiotics.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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