Laboratory Identifications and Relations -- Cavernous Sinus

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[ SBMP ] [ Skull ] [ Face ] [ Cavernous Sinus ] [ Orbit ] [ Parotid Region, TMJ, Mandible ] [ Infratemporal Fossa ] [ Pterygopalatine Fossa ]


  1. anterior: superior orbital fissure
  2. posterior: apex of the petrous portion of temporal bone (region of lacerate f.)
  3. superior: diaphragma sellae
  4. inferior: greater wing of sphenoid lateral to sellae turcica and medial to f. ovale
  5. medial: sellae turcica (sphenoid sinus, carotid groove)
  6. lateral: separation of meningeal dura from periosteal dura near f. ovale

Related Bony Landmarks

  1. lacerate foramen - transmits emissary v. between cavernous sinus and pterygoid venus plexus
  2. pterygoid canal - anterior lip of lacerate foramen
  3. sellae turcica - dorsum sellae, hypophyseal fossa (for the hypophysis), tuberculum sellae
  4. anterior clinoid processes - lateral to path of internal carotid a., support diaphragma sellae
  5. chiasmatic groove - marks location of optic chiasm, anterior boundary of middle cranial fossa
  6. posterior clinoid processes - support diaphragma sellae
  7. trigeminal cave - region marking location of trigeminal ganglion
  8. foramen rotundum - transmits maxillary from cavernous sinus to pterygopalatine fossa
  9. foramen ovale - near, but lateral to cavernous sinus
  10. groove for the greater superficial petrosal nerve - leads from canal anterior and medial to cavernous sinus
  11. carotid canal - opening into cavernous sinus and lacerate foramen
  12. clivus of occipital bone - region of the basilar venus plexus, leads to anterior vertebral venus plexus
  13. groove for inferior petrosal sinus - between clivus and petrous portion of temporal bone, inferior petrosal sinus
  14. groove for superior petrosal sinus - along superior petrosal ridge of petrous portion temporal bone
  15. lesser wing of sphenoid bone - marking location sphenoparietal sinus


  1. oculomotor nerve - superior at level of anterior clinoid process
  2. trochlear nerve - related to lateral lip of diaphragma sellae
  3. ophthalmic nerve (of V1) - lateral on internal carotid artery
  4. abducens nerve - lateral on internal carotid artery, strong hint - we always tag this on your exam
  5. maxillary nerve (of V2) - floor of cavernous sinus, lateral on internal carotid artery
  6. greater superficial petrosal nerve - entering cavernous sinus near lacerate foramen and carotid canal
  7. deep petrosal nerve - sympathetic motor root derived from internal carotid plexus (unlikely laboratory identification - beers to whoever finds it)
  8. sympathetic root of ciliary ganglion - hard to find on dissection
  9. internal carotid plexus - autonomic plexus on carotid artery
  10. carotid siphon - internal carotid artery medial in cavernous sinus and lateral to sphenoid sinus (an air sinus)

Related Structures

  1. diaphragma sellae - contains intercavernous sinus, spread of infection from oposite cavernous sinus
  2. hypophysis (pituitary gland) - in hypophyseal fossa
  3. superior petrosal sinus - tributary
  4. inferior petrosal sinus - tributary
  5. basilar venus plexus - on clivus, drains through foramen magnum, anterior vertebral venus plexus
  6. sphenoparietal sinus - tributary
  7. emissay vein through lacerate foramen and foramen ovale - difficult to demonstrate
  8. superior ophthalmic vein - anterior continuation of cavernous sinus

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