Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis associated with thrombocytopenia post-vaccination for COVID-19

Italy, 12 April 2021, Castelli et al Critical Care


We report about a previously healthy 50-year-old Caucasian man admitted to the city hospital of Mantua on March 15, 2021, with severe headache during the previous four days, slight deviation of the right buccal rim, loss of strength in the right lower limb, unstable walking and slight visual impairment. On March 4, 2021, he had received the first dose of the anti-COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine with no immediate adverse reaction. The patient was a volunteer blood donor, and previous routine blood tests had repeatedly reported normal platelet counts. SARS-CoV-2 Buffer (RT-PCR) and Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Antibody Search were negative.

A brain CT scan showed intra-parenchymal haemorrhage in the left hemisphere, while CT angiography showed multiple bleeding spots within the parenchymal haemorrhage and lack of opacification of the left transverse and sigmoid sinuses, suggesting thrombosis of the venous sinuses (Fig. 1). Four hours after admission, the patient had deteriorated to GCS 8, right hemiplegia, localization of the painful stimulus to the left, no execution of orders nor verbal production. He showed isochoric, isocyclic pupils and vomiting. The patient was transferred to the intensive care unit (ICU), and a thromboelastogram (TEG6S, Haemonetics) showed a prolonged reaction time, a decreased platelet function and lack of fibrinogen, with marked reduction of maximum amplitude of the clot; fibrinogen concentrate (10 g total) and platelet (4 units total) were administered.

Six hours after ICU admission, the patient had become medium mydriatic: he was intubated, sedated and paralysed and underwent a second CT scan, which documented the increase in the haemorrhagic focus, the initial transtentorial herniation of the left temporal uncus and a shift of the midline to the right. The patient underwent a bilateral decompressive craniectomy, which confirmed diffuse thrombosis of the cortical veins. Upon returning from the operating room, a subsequent TEG6S showed normalization of the clot formation rate and reduced clot strength, with PLT had fall back to 15,000/mcL.

Antiplatelet antibodies were negative, while a heterozygous state for the MTHFR thrombophilic mutation with increased levels of hyperhomocysteine and concomitant folate deficiency were reported post-mortem.

Haemodynamic instability, mydriasis and lack of intra-cerebral blood flow at CT angiography led to the diagnosis of brain death, approximately 48 h after admission to the hospital.

3D reconstruction with lack of opacification of the left transverse sinus

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