• Cryptogenic stroke;
  • paradoxical embolism;
  • deep venous thrombosis;
  • patent foramen ovale


Purpose. The increased prevalence of patent foramen ovale in patients with cryptogenic strokes suggests the occurrence of paradoxical embolism. The identification of deep venous thromboses (DVTs) in this population would strengthen this hypothesis. The purpose of this study was to image the subdiaphragmatic venous system in a cohort of patients with cryptogenic strokes. Materials and Methods. In 37 patients with cryptogenic brain ischemia and interatrial communication, duplex studies of calf, popliteal, and femoral veins, and magnetic resonance imaging venograms of the pelvis veins were performed. Results. In 10 patients, DVTs were diagnosed that were considered to be the cause of cryptogenic brain ischemia on probable (n = 6) or possible (n = 4) bases. In these patients, the median time from stroke to DVT was 3.25 days. In 5 of these 10 patients, DVTs did not involve popliteal and femoral veins, areas thought most important to pulmonary embolism, but instead were isolated to calf or pelvic veins. Although none of these 10 patients had abnormal blood hyper-coagulation tests, 8 of the 10 did have clinical conditions suggesting predisposition to developing DVTs, such as concomitant neoplasms or pulmonary embolism. Conclusions. Increased evidence for paradoxical embolism may emerge when diagnostic strategies use multiple imaging methods and evaluate a broad extent of the subdiaphragmatic veins.