The Skull Base and Extradural Arteries



The supply to the skull base and the brain depends on the parasellar arterial system. The parasellar region is lateral to the sella turcica and includes the cavernous region with its extradural venous plexus. In many species the branchial arteries give rise to the cerebral feeders. These arteries originate from a network of arterial channels (rete) lateral to the sella; this rete is later replaced by the intracavernous internal carotid artery or carotid siphon. The carotid-basilar anastomoses will determine, through their regression, the presence and role of these potential sources of supply to the brain. As seen in Chap. 3, the carotid-basilar arteries include the internal carotid artery but also the branches of the external carotid artery.
Table 5.1

Foramina of the sellar and perisellar regions and their neurovascular contents

Foramina of the sellar and perisellar regions

Neurovascular contents

Pharyngohypophyseal canal (inconstant)

Capsular branch (sinusal)

Optic canal

Optic nerve


Ophthalmic artery

Superior orbital fissure









Autonomic nervous system


Deep recurrent ophthalmic artery


Ophthalmic vein


Recurrent meningeal, recurrent tentorial, or meningo-ophthalmic artery depending on the variant

Foramen rotundum



Emissary vein


Artery of the foramen rotundum

Foramen ovale





Emissary vein


Cavernous branch of the accessory meningeal artery

Arnold’s foramen (inconstant)

Superficial and deep minor petrosal nerves, emissary vein

Foramen of Vesalium (inconstant)

Emissary vein


Cavernous branch of the accessory meningeal artery (maxillary dominance)

Foramen lacerum

Internal carotid artery


Pericarotid autonomic nervous system


Carotid branch of the ascending pharyngeal artery


Vidian nerve and artery


Mandibular artery

Foramen spinosum (inconstant)

Middle meningeal artery

Fig. 5.1

The venous drainage of the base of the skull, seen from above and from the side. The cavernous confluent is demonstrated with its tributaries and drainage. SOV, Superior ophthalmic vein; SSV, superficial sylvian vein; DSV, deep sylvian vein; VFO, vein of the foramen ovale; SPS, superior petrosal sinus; IPS, inferior petrosal sinus; TOS, transverse occipital sinus; VFR, vein of the foramen rotundum


Internal Carotid Artery Ophthalmic Artery Middle Meningeal Artery Superior Orbital Fissure Carotid Siphon 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre HospitalierUniversitaire de BicêtreLe Kremlin BicêtreFrance
  2. 2.Albert Einstein School of MedicineUSA
  3. 3.Beth Israel Medical Center New YorkNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Division of Neuroradiology University of Toronto / University Health Network, Department of Medical ImagingToronto Western Hospital, FP3-210TorontoCanada

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