This type of thrombosis is a rare type of blood clot that happens in one of the largest veins in the brain. Today, it can be treated if identified early.

A superior sagittal sinus (SSS) thrombosis is a rare blood clot that can lead to a stroke. An SSS thrombosis is a type of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CSVT).

CVSTs are blood clots that form in the channels that run along the outside and through your brain. The sagittal sinus is the largest of these channels, and several veins empty into it. The size of the sagittal sinus is part of the reason SSS thrombosis is rare.

The symptoms of SSS thrombosis vary but often include headache and visual difficulties.

In the past, SSS thrombosis was frequently fatal. Today, prompt treatment with blood thinners can break up clots and successfully resolve this condition.

Where is your superior sagittal sinus?

Your superior sagittal sinus runs along the upper part of your brain. It travels from near your nasal passage to the back of your skull. It collects and drains fluid from several cavities and locations in your brain.

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Illustrated by Jason Hoffman
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SSS thrombosis occurs when a blood clot forms in the sinus channels of the brain.

When this happens, it prevents blood from leaving your brain, causing pressure to build in your brain. It can also cause blood cells to leak into your brain where they can cause damage to brain tissue.

This may happen as the result of a variety of things, including:

However, the majority of people with these conditions don’t experience SSS thrombosis. These conditions are common, and SSS thrombosis is rare.

Although these conditions may lead to SSS thrombosis in some cases, they only slightly increase a person’s risk.

The most common symptom of SSS thrombosis is a headache that lingers for several days and continues to get worse.

Other symptoms can vary. SSS is uncommon, and symptoms depend on the person and on the size and location of the clot.

Additional reported symptoms include:

An SSS thrombosis can sometimes last for fewer than 48 hours, notes a 2020 research review. This is called an acute SSS thrombosis. It develops rapidly and then breaks up.

In other cases, an SSS thrombosis lasts for more than 48 hours but fewer than 30 days. This is the most common type of SSS thrombosis.

It’s also possible for an SSS thrombosis to last for over 30 days. This is called chronic thrombosis.

The type of SSS thrombosis you have can affect your symptoms and treatment.

When to seek emergency care

It’s best to make a medical appointment if you have a headache that’s not responding to medication.

An appointment is especially urgent if the headache:

  • feels different from the headaches you typically get
  • has lingered for more than 2 days
  • is getting worse

Also seek emergency medical care if you experience a change in mental status, faint, or have a seizure.

Treatment depends on the size, location, and severity of the clot.

An imaging test, such as an MRI, is likely needed so doctors can view and assess the clot. This information will help them determine the best treatment plan.

Options include:

Typically, doctors prescribe daily anticoagulant medications to people who have had SSS thrombosis. These medications reduce the risk of another SSS thrombosis.

The cost of treatment for SSS thrombosis and your insurance coverage depends on your plan, your location, and the exact treatments you need.

As a rule, treatment for SSS thrombosis is a medical emergency. Treatment primarily takes place in a hospital setting.

Many insurance plans have online tools that allow you to estimate possible costs. You can use the International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision (ICD-10) code for SSS thrombosis, G08, to get started. Keep in mind that this information might not include all possible fees.

Learn more about where to get medical care if you don’t have insurance.

SSS thrombosis was often fatal before recent advancements in treatments and technology. Today, the majority of people who have SSS thrombosis recover.

Sometimes, rehabilitation, such as speech, occupational, or physical therapy, is also needed. The exact services you might need during recovery depend on the size of your SSS thrombosis and how much, if any, brain damage occurred.

Some people also experience chronic headaches or changes to their vision. Specialists can help you manage these issues if they occur.

SSS thrombosis is a rare form of a blood clot that forms in the brain. This clot causes a buildup of pressure and blood to leak into the brain, causing damage.

People with certain conditions and traumas, such as recent surgeries or head and neck injuries, have a slightly increased risk of SSS thrombosis.

The symptoms of SSS thrombosis vary depending on the size and exact location of the clot, but a persistent headache that continues to get worse is the most common symptom. Other common symptoms include seizures and vision loss.

In the past, SSS thrombosis was frequently fatal. Today, improved treatments can resolve clots, and the majority of people recover.