Cavernous sinus thrombosis


About 1 in 3 people with cavernous sinus thrombosis die, and many people who survive it go on to develop further problems.

The condition leads to long-term symptoms in around 1 in 10 people, including seizures (fits) and severe headaches.

Vision problems

Problems with vision are also a relatively common complication of cavernous sinus thrombosis. About 1 in 6 people experience some degree of permanent visual impairment.

However, permanent blindness is less common, affecting around 1 in 160 people.

Blood clots

There's also a risk that another blood clot may develop elsewhere in the body – for example, in the:

  • legs – this is known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and affects around 1 in 40 people
  • lungs – this is known as a pulmonary embolism and affects around 1 in 200 people
  • brain – this triggers a stroke and affects around 1 in 330 people

These conditions are very serious and can be fatal.


Complications can also occur if the infection spreads beyond the cavernous sinuses. These complications can include:

  • meningitis – an infection of the outer protective layer of the brain that can cause symptoms such as a stiff neck, mental confusion and sensitivity to light
  • sepsis or blood poisoning – this can cause symptoms such as chills, a fast heartbeat and rapid breathing

Both of these conditions are very serious and can be fatal, particularly if they're not treated promptly.

Page last reviewed: 13/05/2015
Next review due: 01/05/2018