Vols. Videos

Cavernous Sinus

Last Updated: August 20, 2020

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this article is to describe the anatomy of the cavernous sinus and to provide a guide for use when performing surgery in this complex area. Clinical cases are used to illustrate routes to the cavernous sinus and its contents and to demonstrate how the cavernous sinus can be used as a pathway for exposure of deeper structures.

METHODS: Thirty cadaveric cavernous sinuses were examined using ×3 to ×40 magnification after the arteries and veins were injected with colored silicone. Distances between the entrance of the oculomotor and trochlear nerves and the posterior clinoid process were recorded. Stepwise dissections of the cavernous sinuses, performed to demonstrate the intradural and extradural routes, are accompanied by intraoperative photographs of those approaches.

RESULTS: The anatomy of the cavernous sinus is complex because of the high density of critically important neural and vascular structures. Selective cases demonstrate how a detailed knowledge of cavernous sinus anatomy can provide for safer surgery with low morbidity.

CONCLUSION: A precise understanding of the bony relationships and neurovascular contents of the cavernous sinus, together with the use of cranial base and microsurgical techniques, has allowed neurosurgeons to approach the cavernous sinus with reduced morbidity and mortality, changing the natural history of selected lesions in this region. Complete resection of cavernous sinus meningiomas has proven to be difficult and, in many cases, impossible without causing significant morbidity. However, surgical reduction of such lesions enhances the chances for success of subsequent therapy.

INTRODUCTION

The microsurgical anatomy of the cavernous sinus has been described extensively (15, 17, 18, 20, 23, 26, 27, 29, 30, 34, 40, 43, 46, 48). Browder (4) and Parkinson (27) performed the first cavernous sinus approaches for the treatment of carotid cavernous fistula, and Taptas (44), Dolenc (7), and Umansky (46) were pioneers in studying this region. Currently, cavernous sinus approaches are performed for basilar tip aneurysms (11, 37), carotid-ophthalmic aneurysms (8), pituitary adenomas (9, 13), some trigeminal neuromas (5), and other tumors in the region (13, 14, 16, 31, 33, 35, 38). Although the anatomy of the cavernous sinus has been well described, the sinus remains a challenging and unfamiliar place for many neurosurgeons.

The cavernous sinuses are venous structures in the middle cranial base, surrounded by dural walls, which contain neurovascular structures and face the sella turcica, pituitary gland, and sphenoid bone on one side and the temporal lobe on the other side (30). A cavernous sinus has five walls: lateral and medial walls, a roof, and posterior and anterior walls. The roof faces the basal cisterns; the lateral wall faces the temporal lobe; the medial wall faces the sella turcica, pituitary gland, and sphenoid bone; and the posterior wall faces the posterior cranial fossa. The medial and lateral walls join inferiorly at the level of the superior margin of the second division of the trigeminal nerve (maxillary nerve), and the narrow anterior edge borders the superior orbital fissure. The cavernous sinus is an envelope containing the cavernous carotid segment and its branches; the sympathetic plexus; the IIIrd, IVth, and VIth cranial nerves; the first trigeminal division; and multiple venous tributaries and spaces. The intercavernous, basilar, superior, and inferior petrosal sinuses all join with the cavernous sinus. In addition, multiple veins, such as the superior and inferior ophthalmic veins; the veins of the foramen rotundum, foramen ovale, and foramen spinosum; and the deep middle cerebral vein and superficial sylvian veins, empty into the cavernous sinus.

The purpose of this article is to present the detailed anatomy of the cavernous sinus as a guide to increase the safety of the approaches to this area. For this purpose, stepwise dissections of the cavernous sinus and clinical cases illustrating the different approaches to this region are presented. Measurements detailing surgically important landmarks have been performed. Although there are several articles detailing the anatomy of the cavernous sinus, consensus regarding the optimal surgical approach to access this area and the appropriate treatment for many lesions in the area is lacking (2, 3, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13, 22, 24, 25, 28, 31, 33, 35, 38, 39, 42, 47). Because of the complex anatomy and density of critically important neurovascular structures within the cavernous sinus, many lesions in the area have been deemed unresectable (12, 19, 25, 47). High cranial nerve morbidity and the advent of newer technology, such as endovascular neurosurgery and radiosurgery, have resulted in a significant decrease in the frequency with which surgical approaches into the cavernous sinus are performed (3, 12, 19, 22, 24, 25, 42, 47). However, in many countries, these newer technologies are not readily available. By improving our knowledge of the anatomy of the cavernous sinus and applying this knowledge during surgery, we have been successful in decreasing the morbidity associated with surgery in this area.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

Thirty cavernous sinuses were examined in 21 adult cadaveric specimens using ×3 to ×40 magnification of the surgical microscope. The heads were injected with colored silicone, and the distance between the oculomotor and trochlear porus and the posterior clinoid process was measured. Clinical cases of lesions in the region of the cavernous sinus, operated on by one of the senior authors (EdO), are presented to illustrate the different approaches to this area.

RESULTS

Anatomic Considerations

Osseous Relationships

The cavernous sinuses rest on the intracranial surface of the sphenoid and temporal bones (Fig. 1). The anterior edge of the cavernous sinus extends downward from the lower surface of the anterior clinoid process along the anterior edge of the carotid sulcus and the posterior edge of the optic strut and superior orbital fissure. The posterior edge extends from the posterior clinoid process above to the junction of the petrous apex with the body of the sphenoid bone below. After defining the anterior and posterior limits, the upper and lower limits of the cavernous sinus are defined by lines extending from the upper and lower ends of the anterior and posterior edges. The inferior limit extends backward from just below the inferior edge of the superior orbital fissure and lower edge of the carotid sulcus, passes along the lateral edge of the intracranial end of the carotid canal, and ends at the superior end of the petroclival fissure. The superior limit extends from the lower surface of the base of the anterior clinoid process along the lateral margin of the sella to the posterior clinoid process.

Figure 1 (A–E). Photographs illustrating the osseous relation-ships of the cavernous sinus. A, superior view of the cranial base in the region of the cavernous sinus showing the cavernous sinus extending from the superior orbital fissure anteriorly to the petrous apex posteriorly; it is bordered by the sella medially and the middle fossa laterally. It fills the posterior margin of the superior orbital fissure, which is located below the anterior clinoid process. Its posterior wall extends from the lateral edge of the dorsum sellae to the medial margin of the trigeminal impression and Meckel’s cave. Numerous venous channels open into the cavernous sinus. These include the basilar sinus, the anterior and posterior intercavernous sinuses, the superior and inferior petrosal sinuses, the sylvian and ophthalmic veins, and the veins exiting the foramen ovale, rotundum, and spinosum, the carotid canal, and the sphenoidal emissary foramen. Each venous structure is shown by colored arrows. The basilar sinus is the largest communicating channel between the cavernous sinuses. B, lateral view showing the cavernous sinus resting on the body of the sphenoid bone and adjacent petrous apex (broken lines). The lower edge of the posterior limit of the cavernous sinus sits on the junction of the petrous apex and the body of the sphenoid bone at the upper end of the petroclival fissure. The lower edge extends for-ward along the superior edge of the lingula of the sphenoid bone and the lateral part of the sphenoid body to just above the foramen rotundum. The anterior edge extends along the posterior edge of the optic strut and the medial edge of the superior orbital fissure. The upper limit of the sphenoid bone extends along the superior margin of the carotid sulcus and ends posteriorly at the posterior clinoid process. The dorsum sellae is located between the paired posterior clinoid processes. C, view showing the anterior clinoid process removed. The osseous limits of the cavernous sinus have been outlined. The tuberculum sellae is located at the posterior edge of the chiasmatic sulcus between the anterior part of the paired carotid sulci and posteromedial to the optic canals. The lingula of the sphenoid bone projects posteriorly above the intracranial end of the carotid canal and foramen lacerum and covers the terminal part of the petrous segment of the internal carotid artery. The petrolingual ligament extends from the lingula to the petrous apex. D, superolateral view of the region of the cavernous sinus showing the segments of the internal carotid artery. The intracavernous carotid artery has five parts: the posterior vertical segment, posterior bend, horizontal segment, anterior bend, and anterior vertical segment. The anterior bend and anterior vertical segments course medial to the anterior clinoid process. E, view showing the anterior clinoid process moved to expose the anterior bend and anterior vertical segment of the intracavernous carotid. A., artery; Ant., anterior; Bas., basilar; Car., carotid; Clin., clinoid; Em., emissary; Fiss., fissure; For., foramen; Horiz., horizontal; Impress., impression; Inf., inferior; Intercav., intercavernous; Mid., middle; Ophth., ophthalmic; Orb., orbital; Pet., petrosal, petrous; Pit., pituitary; Post., posterior; Seg., segment; Sphen., sphenoid, sphenoidal; Sulc., sulcus; Sup., superior; Trig., trigeminal; V., vein; Ven., venous; Vert., vertical. (Images courtesy of AL Rhoton, Jr.)

Figure 1 (F–K). Continued. F, superior view showing the osseous structures, which nearly encircle the clinoid segment of the internal carotid artery, including the anterior clinoid laterally, the optic strut anteriorly, and the carotid sulcus medially. The carotid sulcus begins lateral to the dorsum sellae at the intracranial end of the carotid canal, extends forward just below the sellar floor, and turns upward along the posterior surface of the optic strut. The anterior clinoid process projects backward from the lesser wing of the sphenoid bone, often overlapping the lateral edge of the carotid sulcus. The anterior root of the lesser sphenoid wing extends medially to form the roof of the optic canal. The posterior root of the lesser wing, referred to as the optic strut, extends from the inferomedial aspect of the anterior clinoid to the sphenoid body. The bony collar around the carotid artery formed by the anterior clinoid, optic strut, and carotid sulcus is inclined downward as it slopes medially from the upper surface of the anterior clinoid to the carotid sulcus. Another small prominence, the middle clinoid process, situated on the medial side of the carotid sulcus at the level of the tip of the anterior clinoid process, projects upward and laterally. In some cases, there is an osseous bridge extending from the tip of the middle clinoid to the tip of the anterior clinoid. G, posterior view showing the optic strut, optic canal, and superior orbital fissure. The optic strut separates the optic canal and superior orbital fissure and forms the floor of the optic canal and the superomedial part of the roof of the superior orbital fissure. The posterior surface of the strut is shaped to accommodate the anterior wall of the clinoid segment and the anterior bend of the intercavernous carotid. The artery courses along and may groove the medial half of the lower aspect of the anterior clinoid before turning upward along the medial edge of the clinoid. The air cells in the sphenoid sinus may extend into the optic strut and anterior clinoid. H, oblique posterior view of the right optic strut showing the lateral part of the bony collar around the clinoid segment, formed by the anterior clinoid; the anterior part, formed by the posterior surface of the optic strut; and the medial part, formed by the part of the carotid sulcus located medial to the anterior clinoid process. The optic strut slopes downward from its lateral end. I, superior view of the left side of another specimen showing that lesser sphenoid wings, base of the anterior clinoids, and roof of the optic canal removed. The remaining part of the left anterior clinoid is held in place by its attachment to the optic strut. The medial side of the anterior clinoid is grooved to accommodate the clinoid segment. J, view showing the tip of the right anterior clinoid process, which is the site of a small bony projection directed toward the middle clinoid process, with the anterior and middle clinoids completing a ring around the clinoid segment at the level of the cavernous sinus roof. K, superior view of specimen showing the bilateral caroticoclinoidal foramen and interclinoidal osseous bridges. An osseous bridge connects the tips of the anterior and middle clinoid processes bilaterally, thus creating a caroticoclinoidal foramen on each side. There is also an interclinoidal osseous bridge connecting the anterior and posterior clinoid processes on both sides. A., artery; Ant., anterior; Bas., basilar; Car., carotid; Clin., clinoid; Em., emissary; Fiss., fissure; For., foramen; Horiz., horizontal; Impress., impression; Inf., inferior; Intercav., intercavernous; Mid., middle; Ophth., ophthalmic; Orb., orbital; Pet., petrosal, petrous; Pit., pituitary; Post., posterior; Seg., segment; Sphen., sphenoid, sphenoidal; Sulc., sulcus; Sup., superior; Trig., trigeminal; V., vein; Ven., venous; Vert., vertical. (Images courtesy of AL Rhoton, Jr.)

The carotid sulcus is a groove on the lateral aspect of the body of the sphenoid bone along which the intracavernous segment of the internal carotid artery courses. The horizontal segment of the intracavernous carotid artery sits against and is separated from the carotid sulcus by the dura forming the medial wall of the cavernous sinus. The carotid sulcus begins below and lateral to the dorsum sellae at the intracranial end of the carotid canal. After an initial short and vertical section, the carotid sulcus turns forward just below the lateral edge of the floor of the sella on the body of the sphenoid bone. The carotid sulcus turns upward and courses just anterior to the anterior sellar wall and along the posterior edge of the optic strut and medial edge of the anterior clinoid process. The segment of the internal carotid artery coursing along the medial side of the anterior clinoid process is referred to as the clinoidal segment.

The anterior clinoid process is a bony projection directed posteriorly from the lesser sphenoid wing. The base of the anterior clinoid process is attached to the sphenoid bone at three sites. Anteriorly, the base is attached to the medial end of the sphenoid ridge, which is formed by the lesser sphenoid wing. Medially, there are two attachments: the anterior and posterior roots of the anterior clinoid process. The anterior root extends medially from the base of the clinoid above the optical canal to the body of the sphenoid bone and forms the roof of the optic canal. The posterior root of the anterior clinoid process, also called the optic strut, extends medially below the optic nerve to the sphenoid body and forms the floor of the optic canal. The optic strut has a triangular shape in cross section and separates the medial part of the roof of the superior orbital fissure from the optic canal. The anterior bend of the internal carotid artery sits against the concave posterior surface of the optic strut. The medial edge of the base of the anterior clinoid process forms the lateral edge of the optic canal. The anterior clinoid process is the site of attachment of the anteromedial part of the tentorium and the anterior petroclinoid and interclinoid dural folds. The falciform ligament is a dural fold that extends medially from the base of the anterior clinoid process above the optic nerve and blends into the dura covering the planum sphenoidale (Fig. 2). There are often venous channels inside the base of the anterior clinoid, lesser sphenoid wing, and optic strut that connect the diploic veins of the orbital roof to the cavernous sinus.

Figure 2 (A–F). A–F, photographs illustrating stepwise dissection of the roof of the cavernous sinus. A, superior view showing the dura lining the superior surface of the anterior clinoid process, continuing medially above the optic canal to form the falciform ligament and below the optic nerve to form the upper dural ring, and blending further medially into the diaphragma sellae. The petroclinoid dural folds are a continuation of the tentorial edge, which divides at the petrous apex into the anterior and posterior petroclinoid dural folds. The anterior petroclinoid dural fold stretches from the petrous apex to the tip of the anterior clinoid pro-cess and the posterior petroclinoid dural fold extends from the apex to the posterior clinoid process. The interclinoid dural fold extends from the anterior to the posterior clinoid process. The internal carotid artery and the optic nerve are medial to the anterior clinoid process, and the carotid artery is inferolateral to the optic nerve. The oculomotor nerve pen-etrates the roof of the cavernous sinus in the oculomotor triangle located between the three folds. B, view showing the left optic nerve elevated to expose the ophthalmic artery aris-ing from the medial part of the upper surface of the internal carotid artery and coursing anterolaterally along the floor of the optic canal. The right carotid artery was divided at the level of the roof of the cavernous sinus, which forms the upper dural ring. C, view of another specimen showing the anterior clinoid process, roof of the optic canal, and lesser wing of the sphenoid bone removed. Removing the anterior clinoid process exposes the clinoidal triangle, also called the clinoidal space. The optic strut, positioned at the anterior end of the clinoidal space, separates the optic canal from the superior orbital fissure. The clinoidal segment of the carotid artery rests against the posterior surface of the optic strut. The superior hypophyseal arteries arise from the medial sur-face of the carotid’s ophthalmic segment, which extends between the ophthalmic and posterior communicating artery origins. The oculomotor, trochlear, and abducens nerves and branches of the first trigeminal division (V1) pass through the superior orbital fissure. The lacrimal and frontal nerves are branches of the first trigeminal division. The maxillary nerve (V2) passes through the foramen rotundum at the lower edge of the cavernous sinus. D, superolateral view of the left cavernous sinus in another specimen showing the oculomotor nerve, which pierces the oculomotor triangle between the anterior and posterior petroclinoid and interclinoid dural folds, traverses the short oculomotor cistern, and becomes incorporated into the lateral wall of the cavernous sinus just below the tip of the anterior clinoid process. The thin wall of the oculomotor cistern has been preserved. E, superior view of another specimen showing the oculomotor triangle in the roof of the cavernous sinus opened, but the clinoidal triangle that sits below the anterior clinoid process has not been exposed. The oculomotor triangle through which the oculomotor nerve enters the roof of the cavernous sinus sits between the anterior, posterior, and interclinoid dural folds. F, view showing the anterior clinoid process removed to expose the clinoidal triangle or space. The inner layer of the lateral dural wall of the cavernous sinus, which covers the inferior surface of the anterior clinoid process, blends with the outer layer, which cover the upper surface of the anterior clinoid process, at the level of the tip of the anterior clinoid. The optic strut separates the superior orbital fissure from the optic canal. The clinoidal segment of the internal carotid artery sits against the posterior surface of the optic strut. A., artery; Ant., anterior; Car., carotid; Carotidoculom., carotidoculomotor; Cav., cavernous; Clin., clinoid, clinoidal; CN, cranial nerve; Diaph., diaphragma; Falc., falciform; Fr., frontal; Hyp., hypophyseal; Intercav., intercavernous; Interclin., interclinoid; Lac., lacrimal; Lig., ligament; Memb., membrane; N., nerve; Oculom., oculomotor; Ophth., ophthal-mic; PCA, posterior cerebral artery; Post., posterior; Petroclin., petroclinoid; Pit., pituitary; Seg., segment; Sup., superior; Triang., triangle; V., vein. (Images courtesy of AL Rhoton, Jr.)

Figure 2 (G–J). Continued. G–J, photographs illustrating the stepwise dissection of the roof of another cavernous sinus. G, view of the roof of the cavernous sinus showing an anterior portion and a posterior portion. The anterior portion is formed by the dura lining the lower surface of the anterior clinoid process. The posterior portion is formed by the oculomotor triangle. The falciform ligament is a medial extension of the dura lining the upper surface of the anterior clinoid process. H, view showing the left anterior clinoid process and the lateral wall of the cavernous sinus removed. Removing the anterior clinoid process exposes the clinoidal space or triangle. The structures in the clinoidal space, from anterior to posterior, are the optic strut, the clinoid segment of the carotid, and the thin roof of the anterior part of the cavernous sinus. The clinoidal segment of the carotid rests against the posterior surface of the optic strut. The thin carotidoculomotor membrane formed by the dura that lines the lower surface of the anterior clinoid separates the lower surface of the clinoid from the oculomotor nerve. This membrane, after removing the clinoid, separates the venous contents of the cavernous sinus from the subarachnoid space and extends medially to form the lower or proximal ring and the caroid collar around the clinoidal segment. I, lateral view after opening the optic sheath and elevating the optic nerve showing the ophthalmic artery arising from the medial part of the upper surface of the internal carotid artery inferomedial to the optic nerve and passing anterolateral to reach the inferolateral aspect of the optic nerve at the posterior end of the optic canal. The carotidoculomotor membrane extends above the oculomotor nerve and around the carotid artery to form the lower ring and turns upward around the clinoidal segment to form the carotid collar. The venous contents of the cavernous sinus can be observed through this thin semitransparent oculomotor membrane. The circular sinus extending inside the diaphragma sellae and around the superior aspect of the pituitary gland is formed by the anterior and posterior intercavernous sinuses and the upper part of the paired cavernous sinuses. The oculo-motor nerve traverses a short cistern as it enters the roof of the cavernous sinus, and becomes incorporated into the fibrous lateral wall of the sinus below the anterior clinoid process. J, view showing the carotidoculomotor membrane opened with a microdissector introduced between the clinoidal segment of the carotid and the lower dural ring and carotid collar, which are not as tightly adhered to the artery as is the upper dural ring. The oculomotor triangle on the medial side of the anterior petroclinoid fold has been opened, and the posterior clinoid process has been exposed. The oculomotor nerve courses lateral to the posterior clinoid process and medial to the trochlear nerve. The trochlear nerve penetrates the roof of the cavernous sinus near the junction of the ante-rior and posterior petroclinoid dural folds at the posterior apex of the oculomotor triangle. A., artery; Ant., anterior; Car., carotid; Carotidoculom., carotidoculomotor; Cav., cavernous; Clin., clinoid, clinoidal; CN, cranial nerve; Diaph., diaphragma; Falc., falciform; Fr., frontal; Hyp., hypophyseal; Intercav., intercavernous; Interclin., interclinoid; Lac., lacrimal; Lig., ligament; Memb., membrane; N., nerve; Oculom., oculomotor; Ophth., ophthal-mic; PCA, posterior cerebral artery; Post., posterior; Petroclin., petroclinoid; Pit., pituitary; Seg., segment; Sup., superior; Triang., triangle; V., vein. (Images courtesy of AL Rhoton, Jr.)

The middle clinoid process is an upward bony projection on the body of the sphenoid bone medial to the terminal portion of the carotid sulcus, inferolateral to the tuberculum sellae, and medial to the anterior clinoid process. An osseous bridge sometimes connects the anterior and middle clinoid processes to form a bony canal, called the caroticoclinoidal foramen, through which the internal carotid artery passes (Fig. 1).

The posterior clinoid process is an osseous prominence located at the superolateral aspect of the dorsum sellae. An osseous bridge, called the interclinoidal osseous bridge, may connect the anterior and posterior clinoid processes (Fig. 1). These bridges between the anterior, middle, and posterior clinoid processes may make it difficult to remove the anterior clinoid process and to mobilize the carotid artery at the sinus roof.

Dural Relationships

The consistent nature of the dural layers and folds in the walls and roof of the cavernous sinus provides important landmarks used in surgery. The dural structures include the upper (or distal) and lower (or proximal) carotid dural rings, the carotid collar, and the triangles of the roof of the cavernous sinus (Figs. 2 and 3). The roof and lateral wall of the cavernous sinus can be divided into four triangular areas: two in the roof and two on the lateral wall. The triangles on the roof are the clinoidal and oculomotor triangles (Fig. 2). The triangles on the lateral wall are the supratrochlear and infratrochlear triangles (or Parkinson’s triangle) (Fig. 3E). The borders of the triangles in the roof of the cavernous sinus are formed by dural folds, whereas the borders of the triangles on the lateral wall are defined by neural structures. The triangles are de-scribed in greater detail later in this section. The middle fossa dura that extends medially to form the walls of the cavernous sinus consists of an inner layer and an outer layer, which are important when performing surgical explorations of the cavernous sinus.

Figure 3 (A–F). A–D, photographs illustrating the stepwise dis-section of the lateral wall of the right cavernous sinus. A, lateral view showing the cavernous sinus sitting on the lateral surface of the body of the sphenoid bone medial to the temporal lobe. The oculomotor nerve penetrates the roof of the cavernous sinus by passing through the oculomotor triangle, which forms the posterior portion of the roof of the cavernous sinus. The anterior portion of the roof of the cavernous sinus sits below and medial to the anterior clinoid process. Removing the anterior clinoid exposes the clinoidal space and the anterior portion of the roof of the cavernous sinus but does not open into the venous spaces of the cavernous sinus. The nerves coursing in the lateral wall are barely visible through the dura. The inferior limit of the cavernous sinus is the superior border of V2. B, view showing small strip of the outer layer of dura covering the middle fossa floor removed to expose V2 and V3 coursing in the inner layer of dura in the lateral sinus wall and exiting the foramen rotundum and ovale. The superior petrosal sinus courses along the petrous ridge and opens into the cavernous sinus. C, view showing the anterior clinoid process and the outer layer of the lateral sinus wall back to the level of the gasserian ganglion removed. The inner layer of dura in which the nerves course in the anterior part of the lateral wall has been preserved. The dura covering the upper and lower surfaces of the anterior clinoid process extends medi-ally to form the upper and lower dural rings. The clinoidal segment of the carotid, exposed by removing the anterior cli-noid process, sits between the upper and lower dural rings. The optic strut separates the optic canal from the superior orbital fissure. The clinoidal segment of the carotid sits against the posterior surface of the optic strut and inferomedial to the anterior clinoid process. V1, V2, and V3 as well as the trochlear and oculomotor nerves can be observed through the semitransparent inner layer of the lateral wall. The supratrochlear triangle is located between the oculomotor and trochlear nerves, and the infratrochlear triangle (Parkinson’s triangle) is located between the trochlear nerve and the first division of the trigeminal nerve. The pericav-ernous venous plexus extends around V3. D, view showing the inner layer of the lateral sinus wall removed. The posterosuperior venous space of the cavernous sinus sits medial to the nerves and above the horizon-tal segment of the intracavernous carotid. The superior petrosal sinus, pericavernous venous plexus around V3, and superior ophthalmic vein open into the cavernous sinus. E–K, photographs illustrating another stepwise dissection of another cavernous sinus. E, view showing the outer and inner layers of the lateral wall removed, with the venous contents of the sinus evacuated. The inferolateral trunk arises from the horizontal segment of the intracavernous carotid. The motor root of the trigeminal nerve passes through the foramen ovale on the medial side of the sensory root of V3. The anteromedial triangle is located between V1 and V2, and the anterolateral triangle is located between V2 and V3. F, view showing the anterior clinoid, with the oculomotor triangle opened. Removing the anterior clinoid process exposes the clinoidal space and the clinoidal segment of the carotid. The abducens nerve reaches the cavern-ous sinus by passing through Dorello’s canal and courses lateral to the posterior vertical segment of the intracavernous carotid and medial to V1 to enter the superior orbital fissure. The inferolateral trunk descends lateral to the abducens nerve. The anteroinferior venous space is located anterior and inferior to the posterior bend and horizontal segment of the intracavernous carotid. The oculomotor nerve divides into superior and inferior divisions just behind the superior orbital fissure. A., artery; AICA, anteroinferior cerebellar artery; Ant., anterior; Clin., clinoid, clinoidal; CN, cranial nerve; Div., division; Dors., dorso; Fiss., fissure; For., foramen; Gang., ganglion; Gen., geniculate; Gr., greater; Horiz., horizontal; Hyp., hypophyseal; Inf., infero-, inferior; Infratroch., infratrochlear; Lat., lateral; N., nerve; Lig., ligament; Men., meningeal, meningo-; Oculom., oculomotor; Ophth., ophthalmic; Orb., orbital; Pericav., pericavernous; Pet., petrosal, petrous; Petroclin., petroclinoid; Petroling., petrolingual; Petrosphen., petrosphenoid; Pit., pituitary; Plex., plexus; Post., posterior, postero-; Seg., segment; Sup., superior; Supratroch., supratrochlear; Symp., sympathetic; Tent., tentorial; Triang., triangle; Tr., trunk; V, trigeminal; Ven., venous; Vert., vertical. (Images courtesy of AL Rhoton, Jr.)

Figure 3 (G–K). G, view showing the petrous carotid exposed lateral to V3 and below the greater petrosal nerve. Sometimes, no bone covers the terminal part of the petrous segment of the carotid in the floor of the middle fossa, as occurred in this case. The greater petrosal nerve courses about the petrous carotid, and a branch of the sympathetic plexus courses on the intracavernous carotid. H, view showing the petrous apex and roof of the internal acoustic canal removed to expose the facial nerve and anterior inferior cerebellar artery. The petrous carotid is exposed lateral to V3 and below the greater petrosal nerve. The greater petrosal nerve arises from the geniculate ganglion. I, view showing the trigeminal ganglion and posterior root removed, although the three divisions have been preserved. The petrous carotid becomes the intracavernous carotid after passing below the petrolingual ligament, which extends from the lingula of the sphenoid bone to the petrous apex. The abducens nerve passes lateral to the posterior vertical segment of the intracavernous carotid and medial to V1 to reach the superior orbital fissure. The inferolateral trunk arises from the horizontal segment of the intracavernous carotid and descends lateral to the abducens nerve. The intracavernous carotid has five parts, which are, from a posterior to anterior direction, the posterior vertical segment, posterior bend, horizontal segment, anterior bend, and anterior vertical segment. The anterior bend and anterior vertical segment are extremely short and correspond to the clinoidal segment. J, view showing a segment of the oculomotor nerve removed, with some of the material in the posterosuperior venous space evacuated to expose the origin of the meningo-hypophyseal trunk and its three most common branches: the inferior hypophyseal, dorsal meningeal artery, and tentorial arteries. K, view showing the posterosuperior and medial venous spaces evacuated to expose the inferolateral and meningohypophy-seal trunks. The pituitary gland and the medial wall of the cavernous sinus are exposed between the intracavernous and supraclinoidal carotid. The abducens nerve passes below the petrosphenoid ligament (Gruber’s ligament) that forms the roof of Dorello’s canal and courses lateral to the posterior vertical segment of the intracavernous carotid and medial to the inferolateral trunk. A., artery; AICA, anteroinferior cerebellar artery; Ant., anterior; Clin., clinoid, clinoidal; CN, cranial nerve; Div., division; Dors., dorso; Fiss., fissure; For., foramen; Gang., ganglion; Gen., geniculate; Gr., greater; Horiz., horizontal; Hyp., hypophyseal; Inf., infero-, inferior; Infratroch., infratrochlear; Lat., lateral; N., nerve; Lig., ligament; Men., meningeal, meningo-; Oculom., oculomotor; Ophth., ophthalmic; Orb., orbital; Pericav., pericavernous; Pet., petrosal, petrous; Petroclin., petroclinoid; Petroling., petrolingual; Petrosphen., petrosphenoid; Pit., pituitary; Plex., plexus; Post., posterior, postero-; Seg., segment; Sup., superior; Supratroch., supratrochlear; Symp., sympathetic; Tent., tentorial; Triang., triangle; Tr., trunk; V, trigeminal; Ven., venous; Vert., vertical. (Images courtesy of AL Rhoton, Jr.)

The dura lining the upper and lower surface of the anterior clinoid process extends medially to form the upper and lower dural rings that define the upper and lower margins of the clinoid segment of the internal carotid artery (Figs. 2 and 3). The dura extending medially from the upper surface of the anterior clinoid forms the lateral part of the upper dural ring. This dura extends forward and medial, below the optic nerve, to line the upper surface of the optic strut and form the anterior part of the upper dural ring. Finally, the dura lining the upper surface of the optic strut extends medial to the carotid artery and posteriorly at the level of the carotid sulcus to form the medial part of the upper ring (Fig. 2). There is no posterior part of the upper dural ring, because at the most posterior portion of the upper dural ring at the level of the tip of the anterior clinoid process, the upper ring joins with the lower dural ring to form the apex of the clinoidal triangle of the roof of the cavernous sinus (Fig. 2, H–J).

The dura that lines the lower surface of the anterior clinoid process and separates the clinoid from the oculomotor nerve extends medially to surround the carotid artery. This dura, called the carotidoculomotor membrane, forms the lower dural ring (Fig. 2, H–J). It extends medially and forward, lining the lower surface of the optic strut, to form the anterior part of the lower ring. Medially, the carotidoculomotor membrane blends with the dura that lines the carotid sulcus. This membrane turns upward to form a collar around the carotid artery between the upper and lower rings, called the carotid collar. At the posterior tip of the anterior clinoid process, the upper dural ring joins with the lower dural ring to form the apex of the clinoidal triangle (Figs. 2, H–J, and 3, E–G).

The carotid collar is formed by the dura of the lower ring turning upward to surround the segment of the internal carotid artery between the upper and lower rings (Fig. 2, H–J). The carotid collar does not become tightly adhered to the wall of the carotid artery until it reaches the upper dural ring, where it is bound tightly to that artery. The clinoid venous plexus, a small venous plexus that courses between the carotid collar and the outer wall of the clinoidal segment of the carotid, communicates with the anterior venous plexus of the cavernous sinus. For this reason, we consider the clinoid segment to be intracavernous.

The dura forming the upper and lower rings, the clinoidal triangle, and the carotid collar form the anterior portion of the roof of the cavernous sinus. The posterior portion of the roof of the cavernous sinus is formed by the oculomotor triangle, which has borders defined by dural structures. The dural structures forming the borders of the oculomotor triangle are the anterior and posterior petroclinoid and the interclinoid dural folds (Fig. 2). The anterior petroclinoid dural fold extends from the petrous apex to the anterior clinoid process, the posterior petroclinoid dural fold extends from the posterior clinoid process to the petrous apex, and the interclinoid dural fold extends between the anterior and posterior clinoid processes. The oculomotor and trochlear nerves pierce the roof of the cavernous sinus in the oculomotor triangle to reach the lateral sinus wall (Fig. 2). Thus, the dura forming the roof of the cavernous sinus can be divided into two triangles: the clinoidal triangle (or the anterior portion of the roof of the cavernous sinus) and the oculomotor triangle (or the posterior portion of the roof of the cavernous sinus).

The dura lining the middle fossa lateral to the cavernous sinus has an inner layer that adheres to the bone and is called the endosteal layer, and the outer layer faces the brain and is called the meningeal layer (Figs. 3 and 4). At the lower lateral edge of the cavernous sinus, the layers separate, with the meningeal layer and outer part of the endosteal extending upward to form the lateral wall of the cavernous sinus, whereas the inner part of the endosteal layer continuous medially to form part of the medial sinus wall. Dissections of the lateral sinus wall reveal that the thicker outer layer (a continuation of the meningeal layer) peels away, leaving the thin inner layer (a continuation of the endosteal layer) that invests the nerves in the lateral wall. The lateral sinus wall blends into the dura covering Meckel’s cave (Fig. 3, A–C). The lower edge of the lateral wall of the cavernous sinus joins the medial wall of the cavernous sinus in a “keel-like” formation at the level of the superior margin of the maxillary nerve (Fig. 3, C–G). The inner layer, an extension of the endosteal layer, invests the nerves running within the lateral wall of the cavernous sinus. The triangles of the lateral wall of the cavernous sinus, revealed after removing the outer layer, are the supratrochlear triangle located between the oculomotor and trochlear nerves and the infratrochlear triangle, also called Parkinson’s triangle, located between the trochlear and upper edge of the trigeminal nerve (Fig. 3C).

Figure 4. Diagrams illustrating coronal sections through the cavernous sinus and pituitary gland. A, diagram showing the dura divided into a meningeal layer (orange) and an endosteal layer (green). The two layers are tightly adherent in the floor of the middle cranial fossa, but on reach-ing the upper edge of the second trigeminal division (V2), which is the most inferior limit of the cavernous sinus, they separate into two layers. The meningeal layer extends upward to form the outer layer of the lateral wall and roof of the cavernous sinus and the upper layer of the dia-phragma sellae. The endosteal layer, at the level of the upper border of the maxillary nerve, divides into two layers. One layer extends upward to constitute the internal layer of the lateral wall and roof of the cavernous sinus, and the other one adheres to the sphenoid bone, covering the carotid sulcus and the sellar floor. From the free edge of the diaphragma, a thin layer of dura extends downward to wrap around but is easily separable from the pituitary gland. Our dissections suggest that the meningeal layer forms the sellar part of the medial wall of the cavernous sinus and that the endosteal layer (green layer) forms the sphenoidal part of the medial wall. The meningeal and endosteal layers of dura fuse into a single layer on the sellar floor. B, diagram illustrating that it is easy to separate the menin-geal layer covering the inferior aspect of the pituitary gland from the endosteal layer covering the bony sellar floor. C, diagram illustrating an inferior intercavernous sinus that connects the paired cavernous sinuses. These intercavernous sinuses extend across the midline between the men-ingeal dural layer covering the inferior aspect of the pituitary gland and the endosteal layer covering the osseous sellar floor. A., artery; Car., carotid; CN, cranial nerve; Inf., inferior; Intercav., intercavernous; Pit., pituitary; Sphen., sphenoid (from, Yasuda A, Campero A, Martins C, Rhoton AL Jr, Ribas GC: The medial wall of the cavernous sinus: Micro-surgical anatomy. Neurosurgery 55:179–190, 2004 [50]). (Images courtesy of AL Rhoton, Jr.)

The limits of the medial sinus wall are the superior orbital fissure anteriorly, the dorsum sellae posteriorly, the junction with the lateral wall at the level of the superior margin of the maxillary nerve inferiorly, and the diaphragma sellae superiorly (Fig. 5) (50). The medial wall of the cavernous sinus is divided into a sellar part and a sphenoidal part (Fig. 5F). In our anatomic dissections, we have found the sellar part of the medial wall to be a continuation of the diaphragma sellae that folds downward around the lateral surface of the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland and is constituted by the meningeal layer (Figs. 4 and 5, H–L). The sellar part of the medial wall is not continuous with the sphenoidal part, which is formed by the endosteal layer that covers the body of the sphenoid bone and continues medially across the sellar floor. In our dissections, we found that the sellar part, an extension of the meningeal layer that lines the lower surface of the pituitary gland, is easily separated from the sphenoid part, which lines the floor of the sella and is an extension of the endosteal layer. The intercavernous sinuses course between the two layers (Fig. 5). Therefore, the anterior, posterior, and inferior surfaces of the sella are formed by two layers of dura, and the wall lateral to the pituitary gland is formed by one dural layer, the meningeal layer. The posterior lobe of the pituitary gland does not face the sellar part of the medial wall because it sits in the concavity of the dorsum sellae behind the sellar part of the medial wall. Our anatomic dissections allow us to say that the medial wall has one layer that is constituted by the meningeal dura layer on its sellar part and by an endosteal layer (or intracranial periosteum) on its sphenoidal part.

Figure 5 (A–F). A–H, photographs illustrating the medial wall of the cavernous sinus. A, anterior view showing the cavernous sinus after removal of the walls of the sphenoid sinus. The pituitary gland sits between the paired intracavernous carotids and the cavernous sinuses. The medial venous space extends between the pituitary gland and the artery. The anterior intercavernous sinus crosses the antero-superior surface of the pituitary gland. The ophthalmic artery courses inferolateral to the optic nerve inside the optic canal. B, posterosuperior view in another specimen showing the right intracavernous carotid, posterior clinoid, and adjacent part of the dorsum sellae removed to expose the medial wall of the right cavernous sinus. The medial wall of the cavernous sinus forms the medial border of the medial venous space on the left side. The anterior intercavernous sinus courses anterosuperior and the posterior intercavernous sinus courses posterosuperior to the pituitary gland in the margins of the diaphragma. The basilar sinus, the largest communication across the midline between the cavernous sinuses sits on the back of the dorsum and opens into the posterior part of both cavernous sinuses. The petrosphenoid ligament, below which the abducens nerve passes to enter the cavernous sinus, extends from the petrous apex to the lower part of the lateral edge of the dorsum sellae. The abducens nerve passes lateral to the posterior vertical segment of the intracavernous carotid. C, lateral view showing the right cavernous sinus shown in B. A segment of the intracavernous carotid has been removed to expose the medial venous space located medial to the intracavernous carotid and in direct contact with the medial wall of the sinus. D, right lateral view showing another cavernous sinus. The intracavernous carotid has been removed and the medial venous space partially evacuated to expose the medial wall of the cavernous sinus. The medial wall has two parts: the sellar and sphenoidal. The sellar part is positioned lateral to the pituitary gland. The sphenoidal part lines the carotid sulcus on the body of the sphenoid bone. The sellar portion of the medial wall separates the lateral surface of the pituitary gland from the cavernous sinus. The sphenoidal part of the medial wall is formed by the dura lining the carotid sulcus on the body of the sphenoid bone. The petrous carotid passes below the petrolingual ligament to enter the cavernous sinus. The abducens nerve passes below the petrosphenoid ligament (Gruber’s ligament), which roofs Dorello’s canal, enters the cavernous sinus, and courses lateral to the posterior vertical segment of the intracavernous carotid. E, enlarged view showing that the dura lining the lower surface of the pituitary gland can be easily separated from the dura lining the sellar floor and that the inferior intercavernous sinus crosses between the two dural layers. The thin dural layer, which forms the sellar part of the medial wall of the cavernous sinus, separates the medial venous space from the pituitary gland. F, right lateral view of another cavernous sinus showing the nerves and intracavernous carotid removed to expose the medial wall of the cavernous, which has two parts: sellar and sphenoidal. The sellar part covers the lateral surface of the pituitary gland, and the sphenoidal part is formed by the dura lining the carotid sulcus. A., artery; Ant., anterior; Car., carotid; Carotidoculom., carotidoculomotor; Cav., cavernous; Clin., clinoid, clinoidal; CN, cranial nerve; Diaph., diaphragma; Gr., great; Hyp., hypophyseal; Inf., inferior; Intercav., intercavernous; Lig., ligament; Med., medial; Memb., membrane; Ophth., ophthalmic; PCoA, posterior communicating artery; Pet., petrosal; Petroclin., petroclinoid; Petroling., petrolingual; Petrosphen., petrosphenoid; Pit., pituitary; Port., portion; Post., posterior; Seg., segment; Sphen., sphenoid, sphenoidal; Ven., venous; Vert., vertical. (Images courtesy of AL Rhoton, Jr.)

Figure 5 (G–L). Continued. G, sagittal view directed through the sphenoid sinus to the medial wall of the cavernous sinus showing the pituitary gland sitting in the sella above the sphenoid sinus. The anterior intercavernous sinus crosses the anterosuperior aspect of the gland. The basilar sinus, the largest communication between the cavernous sinuses, crosses the back of the dorsum sellae and opens into both cavernous sinuses. H, enlarged view showing the pituitary gland removed to expose the medial wall of the right cavernous sinus. The anterior intercavernous sinus courses between the meningeal layer of dura facing the gland and the endosteal layer lining the osseous sellar wall. I–L, photographs illustrating the stepwise exposure of the medial wall of the left cavernous sinus. I, view showing the roof and lateral wall of the cavernous sinus exposed. The clinoidal space has been exposed by removing the anterior clinoid process. The carotidoculomotor membrane, which forms the anterior part of the roof of the cavernous sinus and the carotid collar, has been folded forward to expose the clinoidal segment of the carotid. The oculomotor nerve enters the roof of the cavernous sinus through the oculomotor triangle located on the medial side of the anterior petroclinoid dural fold. A microdissector placed below the diaphragma sellae and lateral to the pituitary gland can be observed through the thin medial wall of the cavernous sinus. J, enlarged view showing the microdissector through the thin medial sinus wall that separates the cavernous sinus from the pituitary gland. K, view showing the intracavernous carotid and nerves removed to expose the medial wall of the cavernous sinus. The microdissector, placed below the diaphragma sellae and pituitary gland, can be observed through the thin semitransparent medial wall. L, view showing the medial wall of the cavernous sinus opened, with the leaves of the sellar portion of the medial wall folded outward to expose the lateral surface of the gland. The sphenoidal portion of the medial wall is exposed along the anterior and lower edges of the gland. A., artery; Ant., anterior; Car., carotid; Carotidoculom., carotidoculomotor; Cav., cavernous; Clin., clinoid, clinoidal; CN, cranial nerve; Diaph., diaphragma; Gr., great; Hyp., hypophyseal; Inf., inferior; Intercav., intercavernous; Lig., ligament; Med., medial; Memb., membrane; Ophth., ophthalmic; PCoA, posterior communicating artery; Pet., petrosal; Petroclin., petroclinoid; Petroling., petrolingual; Petrosphen., petrosphenoid; Pit., pituitary; Port., portion; Post., posterior; Seg., segment; Sphen., sphenoid, sphenoidal; Ven., venous; Vert., vertical. (Images courtesy of AL Rhoton, Jr.)

The posterior part of the cavernous sinus has a large venous confluence located lateral to the dorsum sellae that opens into the basilar and superior and inferior petrosal sinuses (Fig. 6). The basilar sinus sits on the posterior surface of the dorsum sellae and upper clivus and is the largest connection between the two cavernous sinuses. The inferior limit of the posterior wall of the cavernous sinus is situated at the upper margin of the petroclival fissure just below the petrosphenoid ligament (Gruber’s ligament), which runs between the petrous apex and the lower lateral edge of the dorsum sellae to roof Dorello’s canal. The VIth cranial nerve pierces the dura of the clivus below the petrosphenoid ligament and ascends to pass through Dorello’s canal to reach the cavernous sinus. The superior limit of the posterior wall of the cavernous sinus is the posterior petroclinoid dural fold, and the lateral limit is the dura lining the medial edge of the trigeminal porus. The medial edge of the posterior wall of the cavernous sinus is located at the lateral edge of the dorsum sellae.

Figure 6. Photographs illustrating the stepwise dissection of the posterior wall of the cavernous sinus. A, posterior view showing the posterior wall of the cavernous sinus. The posterior wall of the cavernous sinus sits between three points: the posterior clinoid process, the site where the abducens nerve pierces the dura of the clivus, and the medial aspect of the trigeminal porus. The abducens nerve has an upward course after piercing the dura of the clivus and passing through Dorello’s canal. The oculomotor nerve penetrates the roof of the cavernous sinus in the middle of the oculomotor triangle. The superior petrosal sinus courses along the petrous ridge and above the posterior root of the trigeminal nerve. The inferior petrosal sinus courses along the petroclival fissure and opens around the abducens nerve into the basilar sinus. The part of the right petrous apex below the trigeminal porus has been removed to expose the petrouscarotid. B, view showing the clival dura opened to expose the basilar sinus, the largest communication between the cavernous sinuses. The petrosphenoid ligament (Gruber’s ligament), which roofs Dorello’s canal, extends from the petrous apex to the lower part of the lateral edge of the dorsum sellae. The lateral limit of the posterior wall of the cavernous sinus is the medial aspect of the trigeminal porus. C, view showing part of the basilar sinus evacuated to demonstrate the upward course of the abducens nerve after piercing the clival dura. A., artery; Car., carotid; Cav., cavernous; Clin., clinoid; CN, cranial nerve; Hyp., hypophyseal; Inf., inferior; Lig., ligament; Sup., superior; Pet., petrosal; Petrosphen., petrosphenoid; Pit., pituitary; Post., posterior; Seg., segment; Triang., triangle. (Images courtesy of AL Rhoton, Jr.)

Neural Relationships

The nerves related to the cavernous sinus are the oculomotor, trochlear, ophthalmic, and abducens nerves and sympathetic plexus around the intracavernous carotid artery (Figs. 2, 3, and 5). The oculomotor and trochlear nerves pierce the roof of the cavernous sinus in the oculomotor triangle. The angles of this triangle are located at the petrous apex and the anterior and posterior clinoid processes, and the edges of the triangle are formed by the dural folds connecting the three structures. The oculomotor nerve passes through a short cistern in the roof of the cavernous sinus, the oculomotor cistern, and does not become incorporated into the lateral wall until it reaches the lower margin of the anterior clinoid process, where the cistern ends. The oculomotor nerve courses along the lower edge of the anterior clinoid process to enter the superior orbital fissure. The dura lining the lower surface of the clinoid, which separates the clinoid and oculomotor nerves, extends medially to form the carotidoculomotor membrane that surrounds the carotid artery to form the lower dural ring. The oculomotor nerve, after coursing lateral to the optic strut and through the superior orbital fissure, passes through the anulus of Zinn. It divides into its inferior and superior divisions just proximal to the superior orbital fissure and innervates four of the six extraocular muscles (except the superior oblique and lateral rectus muscles) and the pupilloconstrictor muscle (Fig. 3D).

The trochlear nerve enters the roof of the cavernous sinus in the posterolateral apex of the oculomotor triangle, 8.12 ± 2.32 mm (range, 4.52–13.1 mm) behind the entrance of the oculomotor nerve and 13.82 ± 2.39 mm (range, 10.14–20.1 mm) posterolateral to the posterior clinoid process (Figs. 2, 3, and 5). After penetrating the roof of the cavernous sinus at the junction of the anterior and posterior petroclinoid dural folds, the trochlear nerve courses in the lateral wall of the cavernous sinus below the oculomotor nerve. At the level of the anterior clinoid process, the trochlear nerve crosses, laterally to medially, between the upper surface of the oculomotor nerve and the dura lining the lower margin of the anterior clinoid and optic strut. After passing through the superior orbital fissure, the trochlear nerve crosses the origin of the levator muscle to reach the medial side of the orbit, where it innervates the superior oblique muscle.

The ophthalmic nerve (first trigeminal division) is embedded within the inner layer of the lateral wall of the cavernous sinus together with the oculomotor and trochlear nerves (Figs. 2, 3, and 5). The ophthalmic nerve courses below the trochlear nerve en route to the superior orbital fissure, where it divides into three branches: lacrimal, frontal, and nasociliary. Only the upper part of the medial wall of Meckel’s cave and the upper one-third of the gasserian ganglion are located immediately lateral to the cavernous sinus. The maxillary nerve (the second trigeminal division) courses below and does not belong to the lateral wall of the cavernous sinus. The cavernous sinus ends just above the superior margin of the maxillary nerve, wherethe medial and lateral walls of the cavernous sinus join in a keel-like formation. The abducens nerve and the sympathetic plexus around the intracavernous carotid artery are the only nerves that have a purely intracavernous course.

The abducens nerve pierces the dura of the clivus, has a short course upward, and penetrates the cavernous sinus by passing through Dorello’s canal, located below the petrosphenoid ligament (Gruber’s ligament). It passes lateral to the posterior vertical segment of the intracavernous carotid artery and courses inside the lateral venous space of the cavernous sinus lateral and inferior to the horizontal segment of the intracavernous carotid and medial to the ophthalmic nerve to reach the superior orbital fissure. In cases in which the intracavernous carotid is tortuous, the abducens nerve sometimes courses inside the anteroinferior venous space. The abducens nerve usually pierces the dura of the clivus as a single bundle, although it may be separated into two bundles in the prepontine cistern; however, it may split into as many as five bundles inside the cavernous sinus. The sympathetic plexus (Fig. 3G) around the intracavernous carotid sends branches to the abducens nerve; from the abducens nerve, these sympathetic fibers reach the ophthalmic division en route to the long ciliary nerves that innervate the pupillodilator fibers of the iris.

Arterial Relationships

The cavernous sinus contains the intracavernous segment of the internal carotid artery and its branches. The intracavernous segment begins at the intracranial end of the carotid canal superior to the foramen lacerum and lateral to the posterior clinoid process, where the petrous segment of the internal carotid artery enters the cavernous sinus. The petrous segment of the internal carotid artery passes between the cartilaginous foramen lacerum below and the petrolingual ligament above to become intracavernous. The petrolingual ligament extends from the lingual process of the sphenoid bone to the petrous apex. The intracavernous segment passes upward and forward along the carotid sulcus posterior to the optic strut and medial to the anterior clinoid process and exits the cavernous sinus by piercing the dura extending medially from the upper surface of the anterior clinoid process (Fig. 1).

The intracavernous carotid artery has five parts: 1) the posterior vertical segment, 2) the posterior bend, 3) the horizontal segment, 4) the anterior bend, and 5) the anterior vertical segment (Figs. 1, D and E, 3, and 5). The posterior vertical segment begins where the artery exits the space between the petrolingual ligament above and the foramen lacerum below. It ascends and ends where the artery turns forward, inferolateral to the posterior clinoid process, to form the posterior bend. The posterior bend can sometimes bulge upward into and deform the dura of the roof of the cavernous sinus just lateral to the posterior clinoid process. The posterior bend ends in the horizontal segment that passes forward against the carotid sulcus of the sphenoid bone. The horizontal segment turns and ends in the anterior portion of the roof of the cavernous sinus, where it turns upward to form the anterior bend, which rests against the concave posterior surface of the optic strut and blends into the anterior vertical segment, which lies medial to the anterior clinoid process. The anterior vertical segment, also known as the clinoidal segment, is short and can be exposed only with removal of the anterior clinoid process. It is surrounded by the carotid collar and the clinoidal venous plexus inside the carotid collar and is limited above and below by the upper and lower dural rings.

The intracavernous carotid artery has two main branches. The first, the meningohypophyseal trunk, arises from the posterior bend. The second, the inferolateral trunk, also called the artery of the inferior cavernous sinus, arises from the horizontal segment (Fig. 3). The meningohypophyseal trunk typically originates from the posterior bend of the intracavernous carotid artery and has three branches: 1) the dorsal meningeal artery, 2) the inferior hypophyseal artery and 3) the tentorial artery (artery of Bernasconi-Cassinari) (Fig. 3). The dorsal meningeal artery passes posteriorly in the direction of Dorello’s canal and supplies the dura of the upper clivus. The inferior hypophyseal artery courses medially to supply the posterior pituitary capsule and lobe. The tentorial artery at first passes forward along the lateral wall of the sinus before turning backward in the tentorium. The tentorial artery sends branches to the oculomotor nerve and the trochlear nerve.

There are two types of meningohypophyseal trunk: complete and incomplete. The complete type gives rise to all three of the usual meningohypophyseal branches. The incomplete type gives rise to one or two of the usual branches, and the other ones arise directly from the intracavernous carotid. Inoue et al. (18) reported 70% of the complete type and 30% of the incomplete type. All three of the usual branches of the meningohypophyseal trunk may infrequently originate directly from the intracavernous carotid artery.

The inferolateral trunk, also called the artery of the inferior cavernous sinus, usually arises from the middle one-third of the inferior or lateral surface of the horizontal segment approximately 5 to 8 mm distal to the origin of the meningohypophyseal trunk. It nearly always passes above the abducens nerve and then downward between the abducens and ophthalmic nerves to supply the dura of the inferolateral wall of the cavernous sinus and adjacent area around the foramen rotundum and ovale (Fig. 3) (17, 18, 30). It rarely originates from the meningohypophyseal trunk. A marginal tentorial artery usually originates from the inferolateral trunk if no tentorial artery arises from the meningohypophyseal trunk.

Other arteries that can originate from the intracavernous carotid artery but are much less common than the meningohypophyseal and inferolateral trunks are: 1) McConnell’s capsular artery (8% of carotid arteries), which arises from the medial aspect of the intracavernous carotid and supplies the pituitary capsule; 2) the ophthalmic artery (8% of carotid arteries); and 3) the persistent trigeminal artery, which rarely arises from the central onethird of the posterior bend of the intracavernous carotid, courses posteriorly to pierce the posterior wall of the cavernous sinus lateral to Dorello’s canal, and anastomoses with the basilar artery between the superior and anterior inferior cerebellar arteries (18).

Venous Relationships

The cavernous sinus is shaped like a boat, being narrowest anteriorly near the superior orbital fissure and widest posteriorly at the junction of the sinus with the basilar, superior, and inferior petrosal sinuses. The cavernous sinus has four venous spaces (medial, anteroinferior, posterosuperior, and lateral), which are defined according to their position in relation to the intracavernous carotid (Fig. 3). The medial venous space is located between the intracavernous carotid and the pituitary gland. It can be absent if the intracavernous carotid has a tortuous shape and bulges into the medial wall of the cavernous sinus (Fig. 5). The anteroinferior venous space is located anteroinferior to the posterior bend of the intracavernous carotid. The superior and inferior ophthalmic veins or their common trunk usually opens into the anteroinferior venous space. The posterosuperior venousspace is located between the intracavernous carotid artery and the posterior part of the roof of the cavernous sinus and is the site where the cavernous sinus joins the basilar sinus. The lateral venous space, located between the intracavernous carotid and the ophthalmic nerve, is narrow. The abducens nerve courses medial to the ophthalmic nerve in this space, but it can also course in the anteroinferior venous space if the intracavernous carotid has a tortuous course.

The main venous channels that communicate with the cavernous sinus are from the orbit, cerebral hemisphere, posterior fossa, and contralateral cavernous sinus. The communications between the two cavernous sinuses are through the anterior, inferior, and posterior intercavernous sinuses and the basilar sinus (Figs. 5 and 6). The anterior intercavernous sinus courses anterosuperior, the posterior intercavernous sinus courses posterosuperior, and the inferior intercavernous sinus courses below the pituitary gland. These sinuses can occur together or separately. Sometimes, the anterior and posterior intercavernous sinuses along with both cavernous sinuses communicate around the diaphragma sellae to form a venous circle in the periphery of the diaphragma, called the circular sinus. The anterior intercavernous sinus empties into the posterosuperior venous space of the cavernous sinus near the tip of the anterior clinoid process. The posterior intercavernous sinus empties into the posterior portion of the posterosuperior venous space of the cavernous sinus. The basilar sinus is located behind the dorsum sellae and upper clivus and communicates at the lateral edge of the dorsum sellae with both cavernous sinuses (Figs. 5 and 6).

Another small venous component of the cavernous sinus is the clinoid venous space located between the clinoid segment of the internal carotid artery and the carotid collar. The narrow venous channels in this space communicate with the anterior portion of the roof of the cavernous sinus and have connections through small foramina in the surface of the anterior clinoid process and optic strut with the diploic veins of the orbital roof.

Illustrative Cases

We have selected some clinical cases to illustrate successful surgical strategies for approaching cavernous sinus pathological findings and for using transcavernous approaches to pathological findings around the cavernous sinus. The approaches were performed by one of the senior authors (EdO) and are accompanied in the figures by cadaveric dissections to illustrate important anatomic considerations when performing the approaches. The cavernous sinus can be approached through its roof or lateral wall. The approach through the roof in volves opening the anterior portion only or the anterior portion and the posterior portion together, depending on the site of pathological findings (Fig. 7). If the pathological abnormality is a paraclinoid aneurysm, only the anterior portion of the cavernous sinus is opened (Fig. 8). For the transcavernous approach to a basilar tip aneurysm, the anterior and posterior parts of the roof are opened (Fig. 9). The approach through the lateral wall is used for lesions arising from the structures in the lateral wall, such as trigeminal neuromas and pituitary adenomas extending to the cavernous sinus, as proposed by Dolenc (9).

Figure 7. Photographs illustrating the intradural approach to the left cavernous sinus. A, view of completed fronto-orbitozygomatic craniotomy and pretemporal approach to the cavernous sinus showing wide dissection of the sylvian fissure. The carotid artery is located medial to the anterior clinoid, and the optic nerve is located superomedial to the internal carotid artery. The approach to the cavernous sinus starts with removing the anterior clinoid process to expose the anterior portion of the roof. The dura above the anterior clinoid has been opened. The oculomotor nerve penetrates the roof of the cavernous sinus by passing through the oculomotor triangle, which forms the posterior part of the roof. B, view showing the anterior clinoid removed. Continuous irrigation is necessary to avoid heat damage to the optic nerve and the clinoidal segment when a drill is used to remove the clinoid. Removing the anterior clinoid process exposes the clinoidal space. The dura extending medially from the upper surface of the anterior clinoid forms the upper ring. The carotidoculomotor membrane lines the lower surface of the anterior clinoid and extends medially to form the lower dural ring and carotid collar. C, view showing the carotid artery elevated to expose the posterior communicating and anterior choroidal arteries. The oculomotor nerve passes lateral to the posterior clinoid process and penetrates the roof of the cavernous sinus by passing through the oculomotor triangle. D, view showing the opening of the posterior portion of the roof, which begins by opening the oculomotor cistern. The incision follows the third nerve forward to the posterior edge of the clinoidal space. The posterior clinoid is exposed medial to the oculomotor nerve. E, view showing the roof of the cavernous sinus opened on the medial side of the oculomotor cistern. Gentle packing with Surgicel controls the bleeding. The posterior clinoid and adjacent part of the dorsum and upper clivus have been removed. The basilar trunk has been exposed behind the dorsum sellae. The supraclinoid carotid artery bifurcates below the anterior perforate substance in the A1 segment of the anterior cerebral artery and M1 segment of the middle cerebral artery. F, view showing a small segment of the supraclinoid carotid removed to expose the pituitary stalk. The pituitary gland can be reached between the initial supraclinoid segment of the carotid and the horizontal segment of the intracavernous carotid. A., artery; A1, A1 segment of the anterior cerebral artery; Ant., anterior; Car., carotid; Carotidoculom., carotidoculomotor; Ch., choroidal; Clin., clinoid, clinoidal; Cist., cistern; CN, cranial nerve; Hyp., hypophyseal; M1, M1 segment of the middle cerebral artery; Memb., membrane; Oculom., oculomotor; Olfact., olfactory; Ophth., ophthalmic; PCoA, posterior communicating artery; Pit., pituitary; Post., posterior; Seg., segment; Sup., superior; Triang., triangle. (Images courtesy of AL Rhoton, Jr.)

The roof of the cavernous sinus has an anterior portion and a posterior portion. The anterior portion has an “upper floor” and a “lower floor” (Figs. 7–9) The upper floor is the upper surface of the anterior clinoid process, and the lower floor is the dura that lines the lower surface of the anterior clinoid process and forms the floor of the clinoidal triangle. The carotidoculomotor membrane formed by the dura lining the lower surface of the anterior clinoid process, which is exposed when the clinoid is removed, forms the anterior part of the roof of the venous spaces of the sinus and extends medially around the carotid artery to form the lower dural ring and the carotid collar. The clinoidal segment of the carotid artery sits against the posterior aspect of the optic strut and inferomedial to the anterior clinoid process. The dura extending medially from the upper surface of the anterior clinoid process forms the upper dural ring, which defines the upper edge of the clinoid segment of the carotid.

Figure 8 (A–F). A–F, photographs illustrating the transcavernous approach to an upwardly directed paraclinoid aneurysm. G–L, photographs illustrating the transcavernous approach to a downwardly directed paraclinoid aneurysm. A, oblique preoperative angiogram showing a large upwardly directed paraclinoid aneurysm on the left internal carotid artery. B, view of completed left orbitozygomatic craniotomy and pretemporal approach showing the sylvian fissure opened, the anterior clinoid removed, and the anterior portion of the roof of the cavernous sinus exposed. The extradural and intradural spaces are exposed. The large upwardly directed paraclinoid aneurysm elevates the optic nerve and adjacent part of the frontal lobe. C, view showing the upper ring and the optic sheath opened to aid in exposure of the aneurysm neck. D, anatomic dissection showing the structures exposed. E, central insert showing the next stage of dissection of the aneurysm neck has been overlaid on the corresponding area on B. The upper ring and the optic sheath have been opened, and the aneurysm and the ophthalmic artery have been exposed. F, view showing the aneurysm neck isolated and clipped using three straight clips. A., artery; A1, A1 segment of the anterior cerebral artery; Car., carotid; Cav., cavernous; CN, cranial nerve; Clin., clinoidal; Fr., frontal; M1, M1 segment of the middle cerebral artery; Op., operative; Ophth., ophthalmic; Seg., segment; Sphen., sphenoid; Temp., temporal. (Images courtesy of AL Rhoton, Jr.)

Figure 8 (G–L). Continued. G–H, photographs illustrating a downwardly directed right paraclinoid aneurysm. G, preoperative angiogram showing the aneurysm. H, postoperative angiogram showing successful clipping of the aneurysm. I, view showing completed right orbitozygomatic craniotomy and extradural resection of the anterior clinoid process. The sphenoid sinus has been exposed medial to the optic nerve. The anterior clinoid process was pneumatized. The anterior part of the roof of the cavernous sinus was exposed by removing the anterior clinoid process. The structures in the clinoidal triangle, from an anterior to posterior direction, are the optic strut, clinoidal segment of the carotid, and anterior part of the roof of the cavernous sinus. J, view showing opened dura. The upper tip of the bipolar forceps is in the extradural space, and the lower tip is in the intradural space. The aneurysm can be observed below the supraclinoidal segment and above the clinoidal segment of the carotid. K, view showing upper ring and optic sheath opened to expose the aneurysm. L, view of clipped aneurysm using fenestrated right-angled clips. A., artery; A1, A1 segment of the anterior cerebral artery; Car., carotid; Cav., cavernous; CN, cranial nerve; Clin., clinoidal; Fr., frontal; M1, M1 segment of the middle cerebral artery; Op., operative; Ophth., ophthalmic; Seg., segment; Sphen., sphenoid; Temp., temporal. (Images courtesy of AL Rhoton, Jr.)

Figure 9 (A–F). Photographs illustrating the transcavernous approach to basilar tip aneurysms. A, lateral view of preoperative angiogram showing a large basilar tip aneurysm positioned behind the dorsum sellae. B, postoperative angiogram showing successful clipping of the aneurysm. C, intra-operative view showing a right orbitozygomatic craniotomy and pretemporal approach to the cavernous sinus region. The anterior clinoid process has been removed to expose the clinoidal space and the anterior portion of the sinus roof. The clinoidal segment of the internal carotid artery, optic strut, and anterior part of the roof of the cavernous sinus are exposed in the clinoidal space. This space is defined distally by the upper (or distal) dural ring and proximally by the lower (or proximal) dural ring. The oculomotor nerve pierces the posterior part of the roof of the cavernous sinus by passing through oculomotor triangle on the lateral side of the posterior clinoid process. The supraclinoid carotid artery bifurcates below the anterior perforate substance in the A1 segment of the anterior cerebral artery and M1 segment of the middle cerebral artery. A small aneurysm can be observed at the origin of an early temporal branch of middle cerebral artery. D, view showing carotid artery retracted medially to expose the space between the internal carotid artery and the oculomotor nerve, called the carotidoculomotor interval, through which the basilar artery can be approached. The posterior clinoid process blocks the approach to the basilar artery. E, view showing posterior portion of the roof of the cavernous sinus formed by the oculomotor triangle, which has been opened to expose the posterior clinoid process. Removing the dura of the posterior portion of the cavernous sinus exposes the pituitary gland anterior to the posterior clinoid process and dorsum sellae. F, anatomic dissection showing the same structures demonstrated in E. A., artery; A1, A1 segment of the anterior cerebral artery; Aneur., aneurysm; Arach., arachnoid; Ant., anterior; Bas., basilar; Br., branch; Car., carotid; Cav., cavernous; Clin., clinoid, clinoidal; CN, cranial nerve; M1, M1 segment of the middle cerebral artery; Op., operative; Petroclin., petroclinoid; Pit., pituitary; Post., posterior; Seg., segment; Temp., temporal. (Images courtesy of AL Rhoton, Jr.)

Figure 9 (GJ). Continued. G, view showing posterior clinoid and part of the dorsum sellae removed to expose the posterior fossa dura. H, view of dura lining the clinoid and adjacent part of the dorsum opened to expose the arachnoid membrane covering the clivus. I, view of arachnoid membrane opened to expose the basilar trunk, its bifurcation, and the aneurysm. Compare D before clinoid removal with I after clinoid removal. J, anatomic dissection showing the structures exposed in I. A., artery; A1, A1 segment of the anterior cerebral artery; Aneur., aneurysm; Arach., arachnoid; Ant., anterior; Bas., basilar; Br., branch; Car., carotid; Cav., cavernous; Clin., clinoid, clinoidal; CN, cranial nerve; M1, M1 segment of the middle cerebral artery; Op., operative; Petroclin., petroclinoid; Pit., pituitary; Post., posterior; Seg., segment; Temp., temporal. (Images courtesy of AL Rhoton, Jr.)

The oculomotor triangle, which forms the posterior portion of the roof of the cavernous sinus, is the site where the oculomotor and trochlear nerves enter the roof of the cavernous sinus (Figs. 2 and 7). The posterior portion of the roof of the cavernous sinus is usually entered only after the anterior portion has been exposed by removing the anterior clinoid process. The dura over the oculomotor nerve and its cistern is opened using a 90-degree microdissector to elevate the dura over the oculomotor nerve and a sharp blade to cut the dura against the tip of the microdissector. The incision extends along the oculomotor nerve to the anterior portion of the roof of the cavernous sinus. The incision is then carried posteriorly through the anterior and posterior parts of the roof of the cavernous sinus to the posterior clinoid process. After opening the roof, the posterior clinoid process and the upper clivus can be removed to provide additional access to the basilar artery (Figs. 7 and 9).

The approach through the lateral wall of the cavernous sinus involves separating the outer dural layer from the inner dural layer of the lateral wall of the cavernous sinus (Figs. 10–12). Separating these layers allows visualization of the neural structures within the inner layer of the lateral wall. The lesion is accessed at the point where it is nearest or invades and bulges into and deforms the lateral wall (Fig. 11). In Figure 11, a large trigeminal neuroma with a cystic portion extending to the posterior fossa has been completely removed by an extradural approach. The site of the incision in the lateral wall was over the most prominent part of the tumor, which was between the first and second divisions of the trigeminal nerve, taking care to not damage the trigeminal divisions. The tumor had created its own route to the posterior fossa, and this route through the enlarged porus of Meckel’s cave was used to remove the tumor extending to the posterior fossa. Knowledge of the anatomy of this region aids in avoiding damage to the structures hidden by the lateral wall or by the bone of the middle fossa floor, such as the petrous segment of the carotid artery. Figure 12 illustrates the transcavernous removal of a pituitary macroadenoma extending into the cavernous sinus. Figures 13 and 14 illustrate combined approaches for meningiomas involving the cavernous sinus. The sinus was approached intradurally and extradurally through its lateral wall and roof. The lesions have been removed satisfactorily, and surgery provided tissue for diagnosis and decompression of adjacent structures and reduced the amount of lesion undergoing adjuvant therapy.

Figure 10. Photographs illustrating stepwise dissection of the right cavernous sinus using the extradural approach. A, view showing completed pretemporal fronto-orbitozygomatic craniotomy and pretemporal approach, with the dura at the lateral edge of the superior orbital fissure exposed. B, view showing outer layer of the cavernous sinus separated from its inner layer after cutting the dural band at the lateral edge of the superior orbital fissure with a sharp blade. This procedure is referred to as “peeling” of the middle fossa and cavernous sinus. The nerves invested in the inner layer of the lateral wall come into view as the meningeal (outer) layer is peeled away. The anterior clinoid process has been exposed. The optic nerve and the roof of the optic canal are located medial to the anterior clinoid. The middle meningeal artery was divided when the peeling of the middle fossa reached the posterior edge of V3. After dividing the middle meningeal artery, the peeling continues posteriorly and medially and the greater petrosal nerve is exposed at the lateral edge of V3. The greater petrosal nerve usually courses above and serves as a good landmark for identifying the petrous carotid. The carotid artery may be exposed under the dura and the greater petrosal nerve at the lateral edge of the trigeminal nerve. The medial edge of the peeling of the middle fossa is at the anterior petroclinoid dural fold, and the posterior edge is at the petrous ridge. C, view showing anterior clinoid process removed extradurally using a high-speed drill with a diamond burr. Continuous irrigation is necessary to avoid heat spreading to the optic nerve and the clinoidal segment of the carotid. The drilling leaves a thin layer of bone over the optic nerve and the clinoidal segment that is removed with a microdissector. The anterior clinoid has attachments at its base to the sphenoid ridge, roof of the optic canal, and optic strut. The optic strut forms the floor of the optic canal and separates the superior orbital fissure from the optic canal. D, enlarged view showing removal the anterior clinoid exposes the carotidoculomotor membrane, lower ring, carotid collar, and clinoidal space or clinoidal triangle. The carotidoculomotor membrane lines the lower surface of the anterior clinoid and extends medially to form the lower dural ring and upward to form the carotid collar around the clinoidal segment. The “upper floor” of the anterior portion of the roof of the cavernous sinus is formed by the anterior clinoid process. The “lower floor” of the anterior portion of the roof of the cavernous sinus is the clinoidal space, which contains, from an anterior to posterior direction, the optic strut, clinoidal segment, and roof of the anterior part of the cavernous sinus. The venous spaces in the anterior part of the roof of the cavernous sinus are opened by incising the carotidoculomotor membrane. E, view showing the inner dural layer of the lateral sinus wall removed to expose the structures in this region. In surgery, the lesion is approached in the area at which it presents in the lateral wall. The middle fossa triangles exposed are the anteromedial triangle (between V1 and V2); the anterolateral triangle (between V2 and V3); the posterolateral triangle, also called Glasscock’s triangle, (between V3 and the greater petrosal nerve); and the posteromedial triangle, also called Kawase’s triangle (lateral to the trigeminal nerve and posterior to the greater petrosal nerve). The petrous carotid is exposed under the greater petrosal nerve. F, view showing some portions of the middle fossa floor and roof of the internal acoustic canal removed to expose the intraosseous segment of the greater petrosal nerve, the geniculate ganglion, and the contents of the fundus of the internal acoustic canal, including the facial and vestibulocochlear nerves. The tensor tympani muscle crosses below the middle fossa floor between the middle meningeal artery and the greater petrosal nerve. The cochlea is located at the angle formed by the greater petrosal and the facial nerves. A., artery; Ant., anterior; Car., carotid; Carotidoculom., carotidoculomotor; Clin., clinoid, clinoidal; CN, cranial nerve; Fiss., fissure; Fr., frontal; Gang., ganglion; Gen., geniculate; Gr., greater; Horiz., horizontal; Lat., lateral; M., muscle; Med., medial; Memb., membrane; Mid., middle; Men., meningeal; N., nerve; Orb., orbital; Pet., petrosal; Post., posterior, postero-; Seg., segment; Sup., superior; Temp., temporal; Tens., tensor; Tymp., tympani; Triang., triangle; Vert., vertical. (Images courtesy of AL Rhoton, Jr.)

Figure 11. Computed tomographic scans and photographs illustrating the extradural removal of a right trigeminal schwannoma. A, preoperative computed tomographic scan with contrast showing a large trigeminal schwannoma with a cystic portion extending into the posterior fossa. B, postoperative computed tomographic scan with contrast showing total resection of the trigeminal schwannoma by an extradural “peeling” approach to the lateral wall of the cavernous sinus. C, photograph showing completed orbitozygomatic craniotomy and pretemporal approach. The dura has been elevated from the middle fossa floor, and the anterior clinoid process has been removed to expose the clinoidal space in the anterior part of the roof of the cavernous sinus without opening into the venous spaces. The trigeminal schwannoma bulges laterally between the first and second divisions of the trigeminal nerve (broken line). D, photograph of anatomic dissection showing the same structures demonstrated in C. E, photograph showing completed incision between the first and second divisions of the trigeminal nerve over the most prominent bulge of the schwannoma. The tumor, including its extension into the posterior fossa, has been removed. The tumor had expanded the porus of Meckel’s cave and created a route to the posterior fossa. F, photograph of the operation showing preservation of the trigeminal divisions and total resection of the lesion. The enlarged Meckel’s cave is exposed. Clin., clinoidal; CN, cranial nerve; Fr., frontal; Op., operative; Seg., segment; Temp., temporal. (Images courtesy of AL Rhoton, Jr.)

Figure 12. Magnetic resonance imaging scans and photographs illustrating the transcavernous removal of a pituitary macroadenoma (Cushing’s disease) extending to the right cavernous sinus and suprasellar region after three previous transsphenoidal approaches in a 16-year-old female patient. A, preoperative magnetic resonance imaging scan showing a pituitary adenoma extending into the right cavernous sinus and suprasellar region. B, postoperative magnetic resonance imaging scan showing total resection of the lesion. Fat packing has been left inside the cavernous sinus. The patient had a hormonal cure. C, photograph showing completed orbitozygomatic craniotomy and extradural pretemporal approach with elevation (peeling) of the middle fossa dura with removal of the anterior clinoid process to expose the anterior part of the roof of the cavernous sinus without opening into the venous spaces. D, photograph of anatomic dissection showing the same structures demonstrated in C. E, photograph showing the lesion removed using an extradural approach through the lateral wall and roof of the cavernous sinus. Depressing the trochlear nerve and the first trigeminal division exposes the abducens nerve lateral to the posterior vertical segment of the intracavernous carotid. A., artery; Cav., cavernous; Clin., clinoid, clinoidal; CN, cranial nerve; Men., meningeal; Mid., middle; Op., operative; Pit., pituitary; Post., posterior; Seg., segment. (Images courtesy of AL Rhoton, Jr.)

Figure 13. Magnetic resonance imaging scans and photographs illustrating the transcavernous removal of a left cavernous sinus petrous apex meningioma. A, preoperative magnetic resonance imaging scan showing a petrous apex cavernous sinus meningioma compressing the brainstem. B, postoperative magnetic resonance imaging scan showing resection of the lesion. C, photograph showing completed orbitozygomatic craniotomy and pretemporal approach and extradural middle fossa “peeling” with removal of the anterior clinoid process to expose the anterior portion of the roof of the cavernous sinus. D, photograph of anatomic dissection showing the same structures demonstrated in C. E, photograph showing a combined extradural and intradural approach through the roof and lateral wall performed to remove the lesion. A satisfactory resection has been achieved, with decompression of the brainstem. A., artery; Car., carotid; Clin., clinoid, clinoidal; CN, cranial nerve; Fr., frontal; Op., operative; Ophth., ophthalmic; PCA, posterior cerebral artery; Post., posterior; SCA, superior cerebellar artery; Seg., segment. (Images courtesy of AL Rhoton, Jr.)

Figure 14. Magnetic resonance imaging scans and photographs illustrating the surgical resection of a meningioma of the right cavernous sinus. A, preoperative magnetic resonance imaging scan showing a meningioma of the right cavernous sinus with the intracavernous carotid artery blocked by the tumor. B, postoperative magnetic resonance imaging scan showing resection of the part of the lesion inside the cavernous sinus. C, photograph showing completed orbitozygomatic craniotomy and pretemporal approach with middle fossa “peeling” and the anterior clinoid process removed, exposing the clinoidal space and anterior part of the roof of the cavernous sinus. The lesion can be observed bulging into and deforming the lateral wall and the roof of the cavernous sinus (broken lines). The petrous carotid has been exposed in the floor of the middle fossa just posterior and lateral to the third trigeminal division. D, photograph of anatomic dissection showing the structures exposed in C. E, photograph showing cavernous sinus with the lesion removed using a combined extradural and intradural approach. The petrous carotid artery was obliterated with a clip because it was observed to be occluded by the tumor on preoperative studies. Cav., cavernous; Clin., clinoidal; CN, cranial nerve; Fr., frontal; Gr., greater; N., nerve; Op., operative; Pet., petrosal; Seg., segment. (Images courtesy of AL Rhoton, Jr.)

DISCUSSION

The cavernous sinus region is located at the cranial base, bordering the basal cisterns and surrounded by important neurovascular structures. Since the pioneering introduction of cavernous sinus surgery by Browder (4) and Parkinson (27), a number of different approaches have been used for dealing with pathological findings in and around this region. Vascular, neoplastic, and inflammatory diseases affect the cavernous sinus region. Approaches to the cavernous sinus include the intra- or extradural transcranial and transbasal approaches (7–11, 14, 16, 18, 27, 28, 31–33, 35, 37, 44, 45) and the transsphenoidal approach (1, 37). Although the anatomy of this region has been extensively described (15, 17, 18, 20, 23, 26, 27, 29, 30, 34, 40, 43, 46, 48), controversy remains related to the best treatment and approaches for different kinds of lesions (2, 35, 38), such as cavernous sinus meningiomas (6, 38). There is a consensus that surgery for nonmeningeal tumors is safer than surgery for meningiomas and more often results in total removal (2, 5, 9, 13). Major risks of a direct approach to the cavernous sinus include excessive bleeding and damage to the intracavernous carotid and cranial nerves. Alternative methods for treating cavernous sinus lesions have appeared. In the past decade, radiosurgery has taken on a prominent role alone or as an adjuvant to partial resection (3, 12, 19, 24, 25, 39, 47). Some authors have suggested that radiosurgery is the treatment of choice for cavernous sinus meningiomas because of the low morbidity and mortality and the high rate of growth control (12, 19, 25, 42). However, radiosurgery is not completely absent of complications. Spiegelmann et al. (43) reported an incidence of 4.7% of new trigeminal neuropathy, a 2.8% incidence of new visual field defects, shunt-dependent hydrocephalus in 2 of 42 patients, and 1 patient with temporal lobe edema requiring surgical intervention. Cavernous sinus surgery can offer the possibility of tissue diagnosis and optic nerve decompression and can be used as a route to basilar artery aneurysms and extension of pituitary tumors. Conversely, excellent results have been achieved with surgical excision of meningiomas in this region (6, 33, 35). Microneurosurgery and radiosurgery have also been used for other types of tumors, such as pituitary adenomas (22), as well as for vascular lesions, such as hemangiomas (24). Another factor to consider is that new methods of treatment, such as radiosurgery and endovascular neurosurgery, are not available in all parts of the world; thus, neurosurgeons working in these parts of the world must rely on microsurgical technique combined with anatomic knowledge to deal with cavernous sinus pathological findings.

When planning cavernous sinus surgery, preoperative evaluation is paramount (31, 33, 35) and the surgeon must be prepared to reconstruct the internal carotid artery and the nerves related to this area (32). Proximal and distal control of flow through the internal carotid artery should be achieved before proceeding to the cavernous sinus. Proximal control can be achieved by exposure of the internal carotid artery in the neck and at the level of the petrous carotid canal in the cranial base, in accordance with Glasscock’s instructions (15). Distal control is acquired in the supraclinoid portion of the internal carotid artery after anterior clinoidectomy performed extradurally or intradurally (7, 10, 31). The main technique for reconstructing the intracavernous carotid artery is bypass between the cervical or petrous carotid artery and the supraclinoid carotid artery using a saphenous vein graft (32, 36, 41). The decision to establish proximal control depends on the type and position of the cavernous sinus pathological findings.

In addition to approaching intrinsic disease, the cavernous sinus can serve as a route for accessing other lesions, such as basilar tip, carotid-ophthalmic, and paraclinoid aneurysms as well as sellar and clivus tumors (Figs. 8 and 9) (8, 9, 11, 21, 33, 37). Often, lesions are not located within the cavernous sinus but around it. Therefore, anatomic familiarity with the region is important in accessing and protecting the neurovascular structures in and around the cavernous sinus that may be hidden by the sinus walls or the bone of the middle fossa.

The cavernous sinus approaches are through the roof or the lateral wall (Figs. 7 and 10) (7–11, 14, 16, 18, 27, 28, 31, 33, 35, 37, 44, 45). Umansky and Nathan (46) described the two-layer composition of the lateral wall of the cavernous sinus, which allows peeling of the outer layer of the dura away from the inner layer floor in the extradural approach to the cavernous sinus. In this approach, the nerves coursing in the semitransparent inner layer of the lateral wall of the cavernous sinus can be exposed without opening directly into the cavernous sinus (7).

The approaches to the cavernous sinus through its roof use a combination of the extradural and intradural routes (Figs. 7–9). They require a pretemporal fronto-orbitozygomatic craniotomy and removal of the anterior clinoid process intradurally or extradurally to expose the anterior part of the sinus roof, after which the oculomotor triangle in the posterior part of the roof may be opened (7, 8, 13, 30, 33, 35, 37). The anterior portion can be opened alone or in combination with the posterior portion.

The anterior portion of the roof of the cavernous sinus is used frequently for approaches to paraclinoid aneurysms or carotid-ophthalmic aneurysms (Fig. 8). It can be opened intradurally or through a combined intradural and extradural approach, as described by Dolenc (8). The anterior portion, the clinoidal space or clinoidal triangle, has a more complex arrangement than the posterior portion. The anterior clinoid process occupies the upper floor of the anterior portion of the roof of the cavernous sinus. Removing the anterior clinoid process with the use of a high-speed drill exposes the clinoidal space or clinoidal triangle that forms the lower floor of the anterior portion of the roof. Removing the anterior clinoid process exposes the clinoidal segment of the carotid artery, carotidoculomotor membrane, optic strut, superior orbital fissure, and optic canal but does not open the venous space of the cavernous sinus. Adequate exposure of the anterior portion of the roof of the cavernous sinus is fundamental to approach paraclinoid aneurysms. The aneurysm sometimes arises inside the clinoidal space (or clinoidal triangle) and involves the clinoidal segment of the internal carotid artery. Familiarity with the anterior portion of the roof of the cavernous sinus is critical when approaching these aneurysms (Fig. 8).

The anterior clinoid process is removed extradurally or intradurally with the aid of a highspeed drill and a diamond bit. Care has to be taken to unroof the optic canal when the anterior clinoid process is being removed. Continuous irrigation is necessary to avoid damage to the optic nerve by heating. A thin layer of bone may be left over the optic nerve and carotid artery to protect them from drilling, after which the final thin layer is removed using a microdissector. Drilling across the base of the anterior clinoid and removing it in one piece may prove dangerous, especially if there is an osseous bridge between the anterior and middle clinoid processes that forms a caroticoclinoidal foramen around the carotid artery. Removing the anterior clinoid process in this situation can fracture the osseous bridge and damage the clinoidal segment of the carotid artery.

Adequate exposure of the roof of the cavernous sinus requires opening the sylvian fissure and removal of the anterior clinoid process. In addition, the temporal lobe should be freed from its arachnoid attachments on its medial-basal surface to allow retraction of the temporal lobe for adequate exposure of the roof of the cavernous sinus. When removing the anterior clinoid process, we remove part of the lesser sphenoid wing extradurally and then open the dura to finish the resection. The dura over the anterior clinoid process, exposed intradurally, is opened in four cuts: the first one extends forward across the planum beginning near the medial limit of the optic canal, the second one begins near the clinoid tip and extends forward parallel to the sphenoid ridge, the third one joins the anterior end of the first cut and extends above the orbital roof to join the anterior end of the second cut, and the fourth one joins the posterior ends of the first and second cuts passing through the falciform ligament and the tip of the anterior clinoid process. The anterior clinoid process is attached to the cranial base at three sites: first, to the lesser sphenoid wing; second, through its anterior root, which forms the roof of optic canal; and third, through its posterior root or optic strut, which forms the floor of the optic canal (Fig. 1). Drilling the lesser sphenoid wing extradurally detaches the clinoid from the lesser wing, and the other attachments are released by opening the optic canal roof and drilling the optic strut.

Care has to be taken during this step to avoid damage to the clinoid segment of the carotid, which courses along the inferomedial surface of the anterior clinoid process and sits against the posterior surface of the optic strut. Only the thin carotidoculomotor membrane, which lines and extends medially from the lower surface of the clinoid, separates the venous plexus of the cavernous sinus from the anterior clinoid process. The anterior clinoidectomy exposes the anterior part of the roof of the cavernous sinus and the clinoidal triangle, without opening its venous plexus. The exposure of the anterior portion of the roof of the cavernous sinus continues by opening the optic sheath lateral to the optic nerve and the distal dural ring around the internal carotid artery. Bleeding from the sinus is common when exposing the anterior part of the cavernous sinus roof but is easily controlled by gentle packing with hemostatic products. After opening the distal ring, the clinoidal and supraclinoidal segments of the internal carotid artery can be mobilized. It is important to realize that the distal dural ring is tightly adherent to the internal carotid artery. The opening of this ring has to be performed carefully, leaving a cuff of dural ring that is not detached from the artery. Exposing the anterior portion of the roof of the cavernous sinus usually provides adequate exposure for approaching paraclinoid and some ophthalmic aneurysms (Fig. 8) (8). The posterior portion of the roof can be opened along with the anterior portion to access basilar tip aneurysms and intrinsic cavernous sinus tumors.

The posterior part of the roof of the cavernous sinus is approached through the oculomotor triangle, through which the oculomotor nerve pierces the roof of the cavernous sinus (Figs. 7 and 9). The nerve does not penetrate into the venous space but traverses a short cistern, the oculomotor cistern, after descending below the level of the oculomotor triangle. This cistern ends at the tip or below the anterior clinoid, where the nerve becomes incorporated into the inner layer of the lateral wall of the sinus. The opening in the posterior part of the roof of the cavernous sinus is begun by opening the superior wall of the oculomotor cistern by inserting a 90- degree microdissector in the cistern above the nerve and carefully elevating and incising the dura down to the dissection. The incision is extended anteriorly over the third cranial nerve to where the nerve becomes incorporated in the lateral wall of the cavernous sinus. The next step in the dissection involves opening the carotidoculomotor membrane in the clinoidal triangle medial to the third cranial nerve. The space between the oculomotor nerve and the horizontal segment of the intracavernous carotid artery is devoid of any important neurovascular structures. When the carotidoculomotor membrane is opened, significant bleeding from the underlying sinus ensues. However, gentle packing with absorbable hemostat (e.g., Surgicel; Ethicon, Inc., Somerville, NJ) is effective in controlling the bleeding. The membrane was partially opened when the upper ring was opened. The posterior edge of the upper ring at the tip of the anterior clinoid process fuses with the carotidoculomotor membrane (Fig. 2, C, J, and K). The last step in opening the posterior part of the roof of the cavernous sinus is an incision directed posteriorly through the oculomotor triangle toward the posterior clinoid process. Both parts of the roof of the cavernous sinus have now been opened, and the lateral, posterosuperior, and medial venous spaces have been exposed. The posterior bend, the horizontal segment, the anterior bend of the intracavernous carotid artery, and the pituitary gland between the horizontal intracavernous and supraclinoidal segments of the internal carotid artery may be exposed. The posterior clinoid and upper clivus can be removed to access the interpeduncular and prepontine cisterns for basilar tip aneurysms (11, 37) or the upper clivus area for tumors (Fig. 9) (33).

The approach through the lateral wall of the cavernous sinus starts with peeling the dura away from the middle fossa floor (Figs. 10–12). The dissection begins at the greater sphenoid wing and proceeds toward the superior orbital fissure, where the intracranial periosteum is continuous with the periorbit. A shallow cut in the dura at the lateral edge of the superior orbital fissure allows the separation of the dura from the middle fossa floor to proceed medially along the wall of the sinus. The outer layer (meningeal dura) peels away from the inner layer (endosteal layer) exposing Cranial Nerves III, IV, V1, V2, and V3 and the gasserian ganglion. There are three points at which the peeling has to be done carefully. One is when separating the layers from V2, another is when separating the layers from V3, and the last one is when separating the layers at Parkinson’s triangle. The two layers are tightly adherent at the levels of V2 and V3, and the inner layer at Parkinson’s triangle is wider and easier to damage. Peeling the meningeal dura from the endosteal dura exposes the lateral wall of the cavernous sinus as well as the four triangles of the middle fossa floor (30): the anteromedial triangle between V1 and V2, the anterolateral triangle between V2 and V3, the posterolateral or Glasscock’s triangle anterior to the great superior petrosal nerve and lateral to the trigeminal nerve, and the posteromedial or Kawase’s triangle posterior to the greater petrosal nerve and lateral to the trigeminal nerve (Fig. 10E). The lateral wall approach can be tailored to the site of the pathological abnormality (Figs. 11–14). The “peeling of the dura of the middle fossa floor” away from the lateral wall while preserving the inner layer aids in visualization of the structures within the lateral wall because of the semitransparent nature of the inner layer, as reported by Dolenc (9, 10), who used the extradural approach for intracavernous carotid artery aneurysms (10) and for pituitary tumors extending beyond the sella (9). One of the senior authors (EdO) has used this approach to pituitary adenomas extending beyond the sella with good results (Fig. 12). As Dolenc (9) reports, this last approach is complementary to the transsphenoidal approach, but if the tumor has a parasellar extension, it offers a great chance of total removal through a single operation (9).

The cavernous sinus region is anatomically complex, with a high density of neurovascular structures within its dural walls. Pathological findings of the cavernous sinus region are diverse and include intrinsic and extrinsic lesions. The appropriate treatment for cavernous sinus disease is controversial. All the patients on whom we have performed cavernous sinus surgery have experienced transient cranial nerve palsies but have recovered completely. Radiosurgery for some types of tumors (e.g., meningiomas) has provided excellent results (19, 25, 49). Unfortunately, this technological advance is not available in many countries and does not provide a tissue diagnosis in cases with unusual radiographic characteristics. In addition, radiosurgery can be limited by proximity to the optic nerve, requiring that the cavernous sinus be opened to debulk a tumor before radiosurgical treatment. The fact that technological advances like radiosurgery are not available in many countries and are not applicable in treating tumor close to the chiasm as well as the fact that surgeons with experience in this region have acceptable results means that cavernous sinus surgery continues to have a place in neurosurgery. A precise knowledge of the anatomy of this region can convert the cavernous sinus from an inaccessible surgical site (47) to an accessible surgical site. This knowledge, in addition to the surgeon’s experience, is the only way to perform satisfactory surgery in or through this “anatomic jewel box,” as Parkinson (29) described it.

Contributors: A. Yasuda, A. Campero, C. Martins, A. L. Rhoton, Jr., E. de Oliveira, and G. C. Ribas

Content from: Yasuda A, Campero A, Martins C, Rhoton, AL Jr, de Oliveira E, Ribas FC. Microsurgical anatomy and approaches to the cavernous sinus. Op Neuro 2005;56:4–27, 10.1227/01.NEU.0000144208.42171.02. With permission of Oxford University Press on behalf of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.

The Neurosurgical Atlas is honored to maintain the legacy of Albert L. Rhoton, Jr., MD.

References

  1. Alfieri A, Jho HD: Endoscopic endonasal cavernous sinus surgery: An anatomical study. Neurosurgery 48:827–837, 2001.
  2. Al-Mefty O, Ayoubi S, Smith RR: Direct surgery of the cavernous: Patient selection. Acta Neurochir Suppl (Wien) 53:117–121, 1991.
  3. Barcia-Salorio JL, Soler F, Hernandez G, Barcia JA: Radiosurgical treatment of low flow carotid-cavernous fistulae. Acta Neurochir Suppl (Wien) 52: 93–95, 1991.
  4. Browder J: Treatment of carotid artery cavernous sinus fistula: Report of a case. Arch Ophthalmol 18:95–102, 1937.
  5. Day J, Fukushima T: The surgical management of trigeminal neuromas. Neurosurgery 42:233–241, 1998.
  6. De Jesus O, Sekhar LN, Parikh HK, Wright DC, Wagner DP: Long-term follow-up of patients with meningiomas involving the cavernous sinus: Recurrence, progression, and quality of life—Clinical study. Neurosurgery 39:915–920, 1996.
  7. Dolenc VV: Direct microsurgical repair of intracavernous vascular lesions. J Neurosurg 58:824–831, 1983.
  8. Dolenc VV: A combined epi- and subdural direct approach to carotid-ophthalmic artery aneurysms. J Neurosurg 62:667–672, 1985.
  9. Dolenc VV: Transcranial epidural approach to pituitary tumors extending beyond the sella. Neurosurgery 41:542–552, 1997.
  10. Dolenc VV: Extradural approach to intracavernous ICA aneurysms. Acta Neurochir Suppl (Wien) 72:99–106, 1999.
  11. Dolenc VV, Skrap M, Sustersic J, Skrbec M, Morina A: A transcavernous-transsellar approach to the basilar tip aneurysms. Br J Neurosurg 1:251–259, 1987.
  12. Duma CM, Lunsford LD, Kondziolka D, Harsh GR IV, Flickinger JC: Stereotatic radiosurgery of cavernous sinus meningiomas as an addition or alternative to microsurgery. Neurosurgery 32:699–705, 1993.
  13. Eisenberg MB, Al-Mefty O, DeMonte F, Burson T: Benign nonmeningeal tumors of the cavernous sinus. Neurosurgery 44:949–955, 1999.
  14. El-Kalliny M, van Loveren HR, Keller JT, Tew JM Jr: Tumors of the lateral wall of the cavernous sinus. J Neurosurg 77:508–514, 1992.
  15. Glasscock ME III: Exposure of intrapetrous portion of the internal carotid artery, in Hamburger CA, Wersall J (eds): Disorders of the Skull Base Region: Proceedings of the Tenth Nobel Symposium, Stockholm, 1968. Stockholm, Almquist and Wiksel, 1969, pp 135–143.
  16. Hakuba A, Tanaka K, Suzuki T, Nishimura S: A combined orbitozygomatic infratemporal epidural and subdural approach for lesions involving the entire cavernous sinus. J Neurosurg 71:699–704, 1989.
  17. Harris FS, Rhoton AL Jr: Anatomy of the cavernous sinus: A microsurgical study. J Neurosurg 45:169–180, 1976.
  18. Inoue T, Rhoton AL Jr, Theele D, Barry ME: Surgical approaches to the cavernous sinus: A microsurgical study. Neurosurgery 26:903–932, 1990.
  19. Iwai Y, Yamanaka K, Ishiguro T: Gamma knife radiosurgery for the treatment of cavernous sinus meningiomas. Neurosurgery 52:517–524, 2003.
  20. Kawase T, van Loveren HR, Keller JT, Tew JM Jr: Meningeal architecture of the cavernous sinus: Clinical and surgical implications. Neurosurgery 39: 527–536, 1996.
  21. Knosp E, Kitz K, Steiner E, Matula CH: Pituitary adenomas with parasellar invasion. Acta Neurochir Suppl (Wien) 53:65–71, 1991.
  22. Kobayashi T, Kida Y, Mori Y: Gamma knife radiosurgery in the treatment of Cushing disease: Long-term results. J Neurosurg 97[Suppl 5]:422–428, 2002.
  23. Krisht  A,  Barnett  DW,  Barrow  DL,  Bonner  G:  The  blood  supply  of  the intracavernous cranial nerves: An anatomic study. Neurosurgery 34:275– 279, 1994.
  24. Nakamura N, Shin M, Tago M, Terahara A, Kurita H, Nakagawa K, Ohtomo K: Gamma knife radiosurgery for cavernous hemangiomas in the cavernous sinus: Report of three cases. J Neurosurg 97[Suppl 5]:477–480, 2002.
  25. Nicolato A, Foroni R, Alessandrini F, Bricolo A, Gerosa M: Radiosurgical treatment of cavernous sinus meningiomas: Experience with 122 treated patients. Neurosurgery 51:1153–1161, 2002.
  26. Parkinson D: Collateral circulation of cavernous carotid artery: Anatomy. Can J Surg 7:251–268, 1964.
  27. Parkinson D: A surgical approach to the cavernous portion of the carotid artery: Anatomical studies and case report. J Neurosurg 23:474–483, 1965.
  28. Parkinson D: Carotid cavernous fistula: Direct repair with preservation of the carotid artery—Technical note. J Neurosurg 38:99–106, 1973.
  29. Parkinson D: The cavernous sinus, in Dolenc VV (ed): The Cavernous Sinus. New York, Springer-Verlag, 1987, pp 3–29.
  30. Renn WH, Rhoton AL Jr: Microsurgical anatomy of the sellar region. J Neurosurg 43:288–298, 1975.
  31. Rhoton AL Jr: The supratentorial cranial space: Microsurgical anatomy and surgical approaches. Neurosurgery 51[Suppl 1]:375–410, 2002.
  32. Sekhar LN, Moller AR: Operative management of tumors involving the cavernous sinus. J Neurosurg 64:879–889, 1986.
  33. Sekhar LN, Burgess J, Akin O: Anatomical study of the cavernous sinus emphasizing operative approaches and related vascular and neural reconstruction. Neurosurgery 21:806–816, 1987.
  34. Sekhar LN, Pomeranz SH, Sen CN: Management of tumours involving the cavernous sinus. Acta Neurochir Suppl (Wien) 53:101–112, 1991.
  35. Sekhar LN, Sen CN, Jho HD: Saphenous vein graft bypass of the cavernous internal carotid artery. J Neurosurg 72:35–41, 1990.
  36. Sekhar LN, Sen CN, Jho HD, Janecka IP: Surgical treatment of intracavernous neoplasms: A four-year experience. Neurosurgery 24:18–30, 1989.
  37. Seoane E, Rhoton AL Jr, de Oliveira O: Microsurgical anatomy of the dural carotid collar (carotid collar) and rings around the clinoid segment of the internal carotid artery. Neurosurgery 42:869–886, 1998.
  38. Seoane E, Tedeschi H, de Oliveira EP, Wen HT, Rhoton AL Jr: The pretemporal transcavernous approach to the interpeduncular and prepontine cisterns: Microsurgical anatomy and technique application. Neurosurgery 46: 891–899, 2000.
  39. Sepehrnia A, Samii M, Tatagiba M: Management of intracavernous tumours: An 11-year experience. Acta Neurochir Suppl (Wien) 53:122–126, 1991.
  40. Sheehan JP, Kondziolka D, Flickinger J, Lunsford LD: Radiosurgery for residual or recurrent nonfunctioning pituitary adenoma. J Neurosurg 97[Suppl 5]:408–414, 2002.
  41. Spektor S, Piontek E, Umansky F: Orbital venous drainage into the anterior cavernous sinus space: Microanatomic relationships. Neurosurgery 40:532– 540, 1997.
  42. Spetzler RF, Fukushima T, Martin N, Zabramski JM: Petrous carotid-to-intradural carotid saphenous vein graft for intracavernous giant aneurysm, tumor, and occlusive cerebrovascular disease. J Neurosurg 73:496–501, 1990.
  43. Spiegelmann R, Nissim O, Menhel J, Alezra D, Pfeffer MR: Linear accelerator radiosurgery for meningiomas in and around the cavernous sinus. Neurosurgery 51:1373–1380, 2002.
  44. Taptas JN: The so-called cavernous sinus: A review of the controversy and its implications for neurosurgeons. Neurosurgery 11:712–717, 1982.
  45. Tedeschi H, de Oliveira EP, Wen HT, Rhoton AL Jr: Perspectives on the approaches to lesions in and around the cavernous sinus. Oper Tech Neurosurg 4:82–107, 2001.
  46. Umansky F, Nathan H: The lateral wall of the cavernous sinus with special reference to the nerves related to it. J Neurosurg 56:228–234, 1982.
  47. Umansky F, Valarezzo A, Elidan J: The superior wall of the cavernous sinus: A microanatomical study. J Neurosurg 81:914–920, 1994.
  48. van Loveren HR, Keller JT, El-Kalliny M, Scodary DJ, Tew JM Jr: The Dolenc technique for cavernous sinus exploration (cadaveric prosection): Technical note. J Neurosurg 74:837–844, 1991.
  49. Wowra  B,  Stummer  W:  Efficacy  of  gamma  knife  radiosurgery  for nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas: A quantitative follow up with magnetic resonance imaging-based volumetric analysis. J Neurosurg 97[Suppl 5]:429– 432, 2002.
  50. Yasuda A, Campero A, Martins C, Rhoton AL Jr, Ribas GC: The medial wall of the cavernous sinus: Microsurgical anatomy. Neurosurgery 55:179–190, 2004.

Please login to post a comment.

Top