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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Case of a Carotid Cavernous Fistula


Case Presentation: A 73-year-old male presented to the emergency department complaining of pain in his right eye for four weeks. He denied any trauma, and the pain was accompanied by ptosis, proptosis, swelling, redness, blurred vision, and a frontal headache. On examination, conjunctival arterialization was also appreciated. Magnetic resonance imaging and angiography showed evidence of a carotid cavernous fistula for which the patient underwent successful transvenous coiling and embolization.

Discussion: Carotid cavernous fistulas are classified as higher flow, direct fistulas or lower flow, indirect fistulas; the latter is more insidious in onset. Classic symptoms include conjunctival arterialization, proptosis, ptosis, palpebral edema, ocular palsy, vibratory sensation, elevated intraocular pressure without pupillary or visual acuity deficits, and headache. The treatment of choice is transvenous embolization.

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