Medical Q&As

Cavernous sinus thrombosis - explain?

My cousin is in a coma as a result of cavernous sinus thrombosis. Are you aware of such a disease? I would appreciate anything you can tell me about it.

Despite the use of the term sinus the cavernous sinuses should not be confused with the maxillary or frontal sinuses, which can be affected by sinusitis. The cavernous sinuses are large veins lying within the skull bone immediately behind each eye and on either side of the pituitary gland. They connect the veins of the face with those of the brain. As well as containing blood they also contain a number of nerves and the internal carotid artery also runs right through the sinus. In effect the cavernous sinuses are irregular blood-filled cavities in the floor of the skull. Cavernous sinus thrombosis usually occurs as a result of infection in the face that spreads into the sinus through the angular vein. This vein drains a triangular area around the nose. Any infection in that area such as a pimple or boil could spread into the surrounding tissues resulting in some bacteria entering the vein, which in turn drains into the cavernous sinus. This results in the formation of an infected clot in the cavernous sinus, which can have serious consequences. The condition is treated with high dose antibiotics and in some cases surgery may be needed to drain the infected area.