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MR Venous Flow in Sigmoid Sinus Diverticulum


Background and purpose

Case reports demonstrate that coiling of a sigmoid sinus diverticulum can treat pulsatile tinnitus. We hypothesized that MR imaging 4D flow and computational fluid dynamics would reveal distinct blood flow patterns in the venous outflow tract in these patients.

Materials and methods

Patients with pulsatile tinnitus of suspected venous etiology underwent MR imaging at 3T, using venous phase contrast-enhanced MR angiography, 4D flow, and 2D phase contrast. The contrast-enhanced MRA contours were evaluated to determine the presence and extent of a sigmoid sinus diverticulum. Computational fluid dynamics analysis was performed using the 4D flow inlet flow and the luminal contours from contrast-enhanced MRA as boundary conditions. In addition, computational fluid dynamics was performed for the expected post treatment conditions by smoothing the venous geometry to exclude the sigmoid sinus diverticulum from the anatomic boundary conditions. Streamlines were generated from the 4D flow and computational fluid dynamics velocity maps, and flow patterns were examined for the presence of rotational components.


Twenty-five patients with pulsatile tinnitus of suspected venous etiology and 10 control subjects were enrolled. Five (20%) of the symptomatic subjects had sigmoid sinus diverticula, all associated with an upstream stenosis. In each of these patients, but none of the controls, a stenosis-related flow jet was directed toward the opening of the sigmoid sinus diverticulum with rotational flow patterns in the sigmoid sinus diverticulum and parent sigmoid sinus on both 4D flow and computational fluid dynamics.


Consistent patterns of blood flow can be visualized in a sigmoid sinus diverticulum and the parent sinus using 4D flow and computational fluid dynamics. Strong components of rotational blood flow were seen in subjects with sigmoid sinus diverticula that were absent in controls.

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