The mechanistic paradigm underlying venous thrombosis at atypical locations stems from the observation that most events occur as a result of pathology of the organ system drained by the involved venous segment. Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis stands apart as an exception to this general rule. Although brain and sinus pathology are well established causes, these combined variables account for approximately one third of cases. The marked female preponderance and strong association with gender specific risk factors including hormonal manipulation, pregnancy and the puerperium are particularly notable. Factor V Leiden and prothrombin G20210A mutations and hyperhomocysteinemia represent important risk factors particularly when combined with acquired variables. The association with oral contraception use and the prothrombin G20210A gene mutation may offer insights into the anatomic predilection for cerebral venous sinus involvement as compared to venous thrombosis of the lower extremities. The intent of this review is to summarize the corporate literature of both acquired and congenital risk factors associated with cerebral venous sinus thrombosis in order to assist clinicians in their search for underlying mechanisms and to risk stratify patients for anticoagulation treatment duration and risk of recurrent thrombosis.
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