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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 277-280

Venous infarction secondary to congestive encephalopathy from central venous occlusive disease in a chronic hemodialysis patient: A case report

Department of Neurosurgery, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio, USA

Date of Submission01-Oct-2020
Date of Decision19-Apr-2021
Date of Acceptance27-May-2021
Date of Web Publication21-Dec-2021

Correspondence Address:
Mark A Damante
Department of Neurosurgery, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, 410 W 10th Ave, Columbus 43210, Ohio
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/bc.bc_49_20

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Central venous occlusive disease secondary to chronic hemodialysis catheterization rarely progresses to encephalopathy, cerebral infarction, and/or hemorrhage. A 59-year-old male with 15 years of haemodialysis-dependent end-stage renal disease presented with acutely altered mental status, extensor rigidity with left hemiparesis and equal, but small and nonreactive pupils. Magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated infarction and cerebral edema. Cranial angiogram through right brachial artery injection revealed right subclavian vein opacification via a patent AV-fistula and retrograde flow to the right internal jugular vein and superior sagittal sinus secondary to occlusion of the brachiocephalic vein. All cerebral and right upper extremity venous drainage occurred via the contralateral venous outflow tract. Internal carotid artery injections revealed significant venous congestion. Despite successful angioplasty with stenting and resolution of venous flow reversal, the patient failed to recover neurologically. The devastating nature of the presented case emphasizes the need for frequent neurologic evaluation of such patients to avoid catastrophic cerebrovascular injury.

Keywords: Central venous occlusive disease, chronic hemodialysis, venous congestive encephalopathy, venous infarction

How to cite this article:
Damante MA, Huntoon KM, Schunemann VA, Ikeda DS, Youssef PP. Venous infarction secondary to congestive encephalopathy from central venous occlusive disease in a chronic hemodialysis patient: A case report. Brain Circ 2021;7:277-80

How to cite this URL:
Damante MA, Huntoon KM, Schunemann VA, Ikeda DS, Youssef PP. Venous infarction secondary to congestive encephalopathy from central venous occlusive disease in a chronic hemodialysis patient: A case report. Brain Circ [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Aug 15];7:277-80. Available from: http://www.braincirculation.org/text.asp?2021/7/4/277/333025

  Introduction Top

Central venous occlusive disease (CVD) occurs in up to 40% of patients with chronic haemodialysis central venous catheters (CVC).[1] Venous congestive encephalopathy (VCE) is a rare but devastating and potentially fatal complication.[1],[2],[3] The presented case describes a patient with venous infarction secondary to VCE and radiographic demonstration of a cerebral vascular steal phenomenon secondary to right brachiocephalic vein (BCV) stenosis in the setting of a chronic haemodialysis CVC. This report aims to encourage the implementation of neurologically focused screening questions and a brief neurological examination at each dialysis appointment in an effort to promptly identify and treat clinically significant CVD.

  Case Report Top

A 59-year-old male with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) on hemodialysis (>15 years) presented with altered mental status and demonstrated extensor rigidity with left hemiparesis. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain showed extensive subcortical signal abnormalities and restricted diffusion consistent with infarction and cerebral edema [Figure 1]a, [Figure 1]b, [Figure 1]c. Head and neck computerized tomography-angiography demonstrated asymmetric dilation of the right superior ophthalmic vein and adjacent facial veins which prompted digital subtraction angiography (DSA) [Figure 1]d. Evaluation of the venous phase revealed stenosis of the right BCV [Figure 2]f. Cranial angiogram revealed patent filling of the right subclavian vein through the right upper extremity fistula with retrograde flow to the right internal jugular vein (IJV) and superior sagittal sinus due to stenosis of the right BCV. All cerebral and right upper extremity venous drainage occurred via left IJV. In addition, delayed contrast transit with direct internal carotid artery injection was noted, suggesting delayed flow and drainage may be secondary due to severe venous congestion [Figure 2]a, [Figure 2]b, [Figure 2]c, [Figure 2]d.
Figure 1: Magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography angiography (CTA) at Presentation: An magnetic resonance imaging at presentation with T2-FLAIR hyperintensity (a), restriction on Diffusion-weighted imaging sequence (b) and infarction on ADC sequence (c) within the right occipital lobe. CTA demonstrates a dilated R superior ophthalmic vein (arrow) and adjacent facial veins (d)

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Figure 2: Preintervention digital subtraction angiography: A preintervention digital subtraction angiography demonstrates significant vascular congestion (a-d). Occlusion of the brachiocephalic vein (arrow in e) resulted in retrograde venous flow with all cerebral and right upper extremity drainage occurs via the contralateral venous outflow tract (arrows in f-g). The right extremity arteriovenous fistula flow shows flow reversal (arrows in h-j)

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The patient underwent right BCV balloon angioplasty with stent placement [Figure 3]a, [Figure 3]b, [Figure 3]c. A DSA performed 3 days after stent placement demonstrated minimal change in venous congestion but improved outflow through the right IJV and resolution of the described vascular steal phenomenon [Figure 3]d, [Figure 3]e, [Figure 3]f, [Figure 3]g. The patient demonstrated slight neurological improvement initially but expired a month later following emergent arteriovenous fistula (AVF) ligation of a ruptured pseudoaneurysm related to chronic ESRD, complicated by multiple episodes of postoperative cardiac arrest.
Figure 3: Postintervention DSA: A postintervention digital subtraction angiography (a-d) demonstrates stable vascular congestion (c), but improved opacification of the venous sinuses and resolution of the redirected flow down the contralateral internal jugular vein (d). Successful revascularization through the endovascular stent (arrow) is noted without retrograde flow (e-g)

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  Discussion Top

The presented case describes the potentially devastating nature of VCE from CVD secondary to a chronic hemodialysis CVC. The pathophysiology of this condition is best described by a “two-hit” hypothesis.[4] First, increased venous return secondary to an AVF graft results in increased venous pressure.[4] Second, endothelial trauma from multiple and/or chronic cannulization results in intimal hyperplasia resulting in resistance to cerebral venous drainage.[4] In the presented patient, the severely elevated central venous pressure from the AVF, CVD and chronic heart disease overcame the IJV valves resulting in retrograde flow into the cerebral sinuses.[2],[5]

The exact pattern of retrograde flow observed on preintervention DSA has been demonstrated only once in the literature [Table 1] and [Figure 2]e, [Figure 2]f, [Figure 2]g, [Figure 2]h, [Figure 2]i, [Figure 2]j.[2] Retrograde flow caused an increase in venous volume and pressure transmitted to the high-flow cerebral sinus system. This resulted in cerebral circulatory stagnation, increased cerebral venous pressure, and subsequent extravasation into cerebral parenchyma, ultimately leading to infarction [Figure 2]c.
Table 1: A review of previous cases describing neurologic sequelae secondary to haemodialysis catheter associated central venous occlusive disease

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Infarction associated with CVD has been reported twice previously [Table 1].[1],[6] However, neither case described such severe retrograde flow into the superior sagittal sinus and/or contralateral sinus drainage.[1],[6] The cortical venous distribution of the infarcts on imaging [Figure 1] was likely due to the coexistence of a hypoplastic right transverse sinus[2] coupled with increased cortical reflux from impeded venous drainage secondary to BCV stenosis.

Despite successful vascular intervention and resolution of the vascular steal phenomenon, return to neurologic baseline in our patient did not occur, as has been described in the majority of similar case reports, due to his death from ESRD complications 1 month after discharge.[1],[6] Reversal of the congested capillary phase [Figure 2]c and [Figure 3]c was unable to be evaluated in our patient given his expiration secondary to complications from ESRD prior to being able to repeat DSA.

To our knowledge, 12 previous cases [Table 1] report clinical findings consistent with VCE secondary to CVD similar to the presented case. The location of CVD included nine within the BCV, two within the subclavian vein and one within the IJV.[1],[2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8],[9],[10],[11] Management of these patients varied. Relief of CVD was achieved by either angioplasty with or without stenting at the site of occlusion, ligation of the AVF, or a combination of these interventions.[1],[2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8],[9],[10],[11] Unlike the presented patient, who passed 1 month after discharge, the vast majority (83%, 10 of 12 cases) of previously reported patients returned to neurological baseline within 6 months and immediate return was noted in a few.[1],[2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8],[9],[10],[11]

Currently, there are no recommendations regarding screening for clinically significant CVD. Previous cases were evaluated following symptom development and in some, intervention occurred weeks afterward.[1],[2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8],[9],[10],[11] While this seems sufficient in most cases, our patient highlights the potential for severe morbidity and mortality caused by VCE from CVD. We recommend simple, cost-effective screening by review for new-onset neurologic symptoms and neurologic exam to evaluate for changes in neurologic baseline at each dialysis appointment. While symptoms such as headache can be nonspecific, serial evaluation of the patient is advisable to monitor for the progression of symptoms that may indicate symptomatic CVD and the need for prompt evaluation with appropriate cranial imaging.[12] It is important to note that universal radiographic screening for CVD in asymptomatic patients is not likely to be beneficial as most asymptomatic patients do not experience complications. One study suggested prophylactic intervention may result in the progression of stenosis, though unlike our patient, the study patients did not have CVCs.[12]

Due to increasing placement of AVF for chronic hemodialysis patients and growing awareness of the potential for neurovascular complications, it is possible that the incidence of CVD cases may increase. The complex nature of this pathology and potential for devastating neurologic consequence necessitates further interdisciplinary discussion regarding early symptomatic CVD detection and intervention. Further study to evaluate the clinical sensitivity of the described screening method in the prevention of catastrophic neurologic injury secondary to VCE from CVD is necessary.

Declaration of patient consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent forms. In the form the patient (s) has/have given his/her/their consent for his/her/their images and other clinical information to be reported in the journal. The patients understand that their names and initials will not be published and due efforts will be made to conceal their identity, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Prasad V, Baghai S, Gandhi D, Moeslein F, Jindal G. Cerebral infarction due to central vein occlusion in a hemodialysis patient. J Neuroimaging 2015;25:494-6.  Back to cited text no. 1
Samaniego EA, Abrams KJ, Dabus G, Starr R, Linfante I. Severe venous congestive encephalopathy secondary to a dialysis arteriovenous graft. J Neurointerv Surg 2013;5:e37.  Back to cited text no. 2
Herzig DW, Stemer AB, Bell RS, Liu AH, Armonda RA, Bank WO. Neurological sequelae from brachiocephalic vein stenosis. J Neurosurg 2013;118:1058-62.  Back to cited text no. 3
Simon MA, Duffis EJ, Curi MA, Turbin RE, Prestigiacomo CJ, Frohman LP. Papilledema due to a permanent catheter for renal dialysis and an arteriovenous fistula: A “two hit” hypothesis. J Neuroophthalmol 2014;34:29-33.  Back to cited text no. 4
Hartmann A, Mast H, Stapf C, Koch HC, Marx P. Peripheral hemodialysis shunt with intracranial venous congestion. Stroke 2001;32:2945-6.  Back to cited text no. 5
Nishijima H, Tomiyama M, Haga R, Ueno T, Miki Y, Arai A, et al. Venous cerebral infarction in a patient with peripheral hemodialysis shunt and occlusion of the left brachiocephalic vein. J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis 2011;20:381-3.  Back to cited text no. 6
Saha MK, Hamieh T, Larkin B, Mcmillan W. Cerebral hemorrhage due to internal jugular vein stenosis in a hemodialysis patient. Clin Exp Nephrol 2012;16:345-9.  Back to cited text no. 7
Mackay DD, Biousse V. Hemodialysis graft-induced intracranial hypertension. Neurol Clin Pract 2015;5:494-7.  Back to cited text no. 8
Nishimoto H, Ogasawara K, Miura K, Ohmama S, Kashimura H, Ogawa A. Acute intracranial hypertension due to occlusion of the brachiocephalic vein in a patient undergoing hemodialysis. Cerebrovasc Dis 2005;20:207-8.  Back to cited text no. 9
Lal SM, Twardowski ZJ, Van Stone J, Keniston D, Scott WJ, Berg GG, et al. Benign intracranial hypertension: A complication of subclavian vein catheterization and arteriovenous fistula. Am J Kidney Dis 1986;8:262-4.  Back to cited text no. 10
Molina JC, Martinez-Vea A, Riu S, Callizo J, Barbod A, Garcia C, et al. Pseudotumor cerebri: An unusual complication of brachiocephalic vein thrombosis associated with hemodialysis catheters. Am J Kidney Dis 1998;31:E3.  Back to cited text no. 11
Levit RD, Cohen RM, Kwak A, Shlansky-Goldberg RD, Clark TW, Patel AA, et al. Asymptomatic central venous stenosis in hemodialysis patients. Radiology 2006;238:1051-6.  Back to cited text no. 12


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]

  [Table 1]


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