Imaging findings of acute intravascular thrombus on non-enhanced computed tomography

Ryan T. Whitesell, Scott D. Steenburg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

3 Scopus citations


Intravascular thrombosis and thromboembolism are critical diagnoses which are frequently made on contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CECT) or Doppler ultrasound. For a variety of reasons, some patients with acute intravascular pathology are imaged using CT without intravenous contrast. In the acute setting, the increased Hounsfield unit (HU) density of the thrombus compared to the blood pool allows the diagnosis to be made, or at least suggested, on non-enhanced computed tomography (NECT). The increased density of the clot is commonly referred to as the "hyperdense vessel sign." This is a well-known finding in the setting of stroke, but hyperdense vessels can also signal arterial or venous thrombosis in the chest, abdomen, pelvis, and extremities. Once a hyperdense vessel sign is noted on NECT, further exploration with CECT, angiography, or ultrasound may then be performed. Here, we present a pictorial review of the appearance of acute intravascular thrombosis as seen on non-enhanced computed tomography.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-277
Number of pages7
JournalEmergency Radiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Multi-detector computed tomography
  • Radiology
  • Stroke
  • Thrombosis
  • Venous thrombosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Medicine(all)

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