Carotid-cavernous sinus fistulae are rare, but serious, vascular anomalies which may develop following traumatic injury to the skull base. Fractures or the shearing forces of severe head trauma may cause the internal carotid artery to be torn from its points of dural attachment and rupture, with resultant direct flow into the cavernous sinus. Current treatment options for carotid-cavernous sinus fistulae are surgery and coil embolization, with embolization being the most common. Clinicians and nurses treating patients with these injuries should have an understanding of this vascular entity, because prompt intervention helps to prevent permanent disability and improve patient outcomes. This case study reports the diagnosis and treatment of a carotid-cavernous sinus fistula that developed several months after a traumatic head injury.
Questions or comments about this article may be directed to Gretchen Gallucci, MS CNP, 6181 Middlebury Drive East, Worthington, OH 43214. She is a nurse practitioner in Interventional Radiology at Riverside Interventional Consultants in Columbus, OH.
© 2005 American Association of Neuroscience Nurses