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November 1989

Painful Oculomotor Nerve Palsy due to Dural-Cavernous Sinus Shunt

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Neurology (Drs Hawke and Halmagyi) and Radiology (Dr Hallinan), Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, Australia; and the Neuro-ophthalmology Unit, University of California, San Francisco (Dr Hoyt). Dr Mullie is now in private practice in Montreal, Canada.

Arch Neurol. 1989;46(11):1252-1255. doi:10.1001/archneur.1989.00520470126040

• Two patients presented with painful unilateral oculomotor nerve palsies without evidence of ocular congestion or hypoxia. They were initially thought to have posterior communicating or distal internal carotid aneurysms, but had, in fact, dural-cavernous sinus shunts, draining posteriorly into the inferior petrosal sinus. One patient later developed a moderately severe congestive ophthalmopathy, and repeated selective carotid arteriograms showed that the shunt was now draining anteriorly into the superior ophthalmic vein. In the other patient, the oculomotor nerve palsy resolved without the development of any further signs. These observations support the concept that dural-cavernous sinus shunts produce symptoms that are dependent on the direction of drainage from the shunt. It is clear that the direction of drainage can change and that thrombosis of the posterior cavernous sinus determines the direction of drainage. The exact mechanism of the cranial neuropathy is, however, unknown.