- The Japan Neurosurgical Society
- Neurologia medico-chirurgica (ISSN:04708105)
- vol.56, no.6, pp.326-339, 2016 (Released:2016-06-15)
The cavernous sinus (CS) is one of the cranial dural venous sinuses. It differs from other dural sinuses due to its many afferent and efferent venous connections with adjacent structures. It is important to know well about its complex venous anatomy to conduct safe and effective endovascular interventions for the CS. Thus, we reviewed previous literatures concerning the morphological and functional venous anatomy and the embryology of the CS. The CS is a complex of venous channels from embryologically different origins. These venous channels have more or less retained their distinct original roles of venous drainage, even after alterations through the embryological developmental process, and can be categorized into three longitudinal venous axes based on their topological and functional features. Venous channels medial to the internal carotid artery “medial venous axis” carry venous drainage from the skull base, chondrocranium and the hypophysis, with no direct participation in cerebral drainage. Venous channels lateral to the cranial nerves “lateral venous axis” are exclusively for cerebral venous drainage. Venous channels between the internal carotid artery and cranial nerves “intermediate venous axis” contribute to all the venous drainage from adjacent structures, directly from the orbit and membranous skull, indirectly through medial and lateral venous axes from the chondrocranium, the hypophysis, and the brain. This concept of longitudinal venous axes in the CS may be useful during endovascular interventions for the CS considering our better understandings of its functions in venous drainage.