Pregnancy to paralysis: A real threat

Her joy knew no bounds when 27-year-old Afsha (name changed) gave birth to her first child, a baby girl in February this year. She was enjoying every second of motherhood, but the happiness was short-lived . Within a week of the delivery, Afsha suffered from stroke-like symptoms. Movement of her upper and lower limbs suddenly stopped.

Rushed to a multi-specialty hospital in the city, Afsha was diagnosed by a team of a gynecologist and neurosurgeon with Cerebral Venous Thrombosis. To put it simply, a blood clot in the dural venous sinuses of her brain had almost left Afsha paralyzed. This situation is commonly seen post delivery but is largely ignored. Symptoms may include headache, abnormal vision , any of the symptoms of stroke such as weakness of the face and limbs on one side of the body, and seizures, say gynecologists.

"A timely surgical procedure to remove the clot and the compression it was causing in that part of her brain saved her life," said Dr Mangala Ramachandran , consultant gynecologist , Fortis Hospitals. Afsha had been suffering from severe headaches. When she was brought to the hospital a week after delivery, she couldn't respond to any stimulus and was also unable to talk. One side of her body had paralyzed . She also had high blood pressure. She underwent a specialized neurosurgical procedure under a team lead by Dr Deshpande V Rajkumar.

A part of the skull was removed to ease the pressure in the brain caused by the clot. "After 10 days in the ICU, Afsha was started on physiotherapy and other supportive therapies. Slowly she regained her ability to talk and was recognizing people and responding to physical stimulus ," said Dr Rajkumar.

Mortality rate high

"Normally , doctors mistake the symptoms to be that of post partum hypertension and treat it symptomatically. Cerebral Venous Thrombosis is often missed, even though pregnancy is one of the biggest risk factors for this condition among women. The mortality rate is also very high - 15-20 %," explained Dr Mangala.


Those suffering from Cerebral Venous Thrombosis may experience headaches, abnormal vision, symptoms of stroke such as weakness of the face and limbs on one side of the body, and seizures.

How to avert it

Pregnant women and those who have just delivered are more prone to Cerebral Venous Thrombosis because their blood is thicker and more at risk of clotting. So the sinuses can get blocked. The mother needs to walk around after delivery so that there is good circulation. Moreover, if there is less intake of water, dehydration can also be a risk factor for the condition, say doctors.

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