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Cavernous Sinus
Cardiovascular System

Cavernous Sinus

Sinus cavernosus

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Quick Facts

Origin: Paired dural venous sinuses that are found on either side of the sella turcica.

Course: Extends anteriorly up to the medial end of the superior orbital fissure and posteriorly to the apex of the petrous temporal bone.

Tributaries: Superior ophthalmic and superficial cerebral veins and sphenoparietal sinus. Communicates with the transverse sinus, internal jugular vein, pterygoid plexus of veins, facial vein, and the opposite cavernous sinus via intercavernous sinuses and basilar plexus.

Drainage: Orbit and the anterior part of the brain.

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Origin

The cavernous sinuses are paired dural venous sinuses that are found on either side of the sella turcica (body of sphenoid), occupying a space between the periosteal and meningeal layers of the dura matter. The internal aspect of the cavernous sinus is divided into several spaces or caverns by trabeculae.

Course

The cavernous sinus extends anteriorly up to the medial end of the superior orbital fissure, while posteriorly, it reaches up to the apex of the petrous part of the temporal bone. The floor of the sinus is formed by the periosteal dura mater. The lateral wall, roof, and medial walls are formed by the meningeal layer of dura mater.

Several important structure course through the cavernous sinus and in its lateral wall. For instance, cranial nerves, including the oculomotor, trochlear, and ophthalmic and maxillary divisions of trigeminal nerve run inside the lateral wall of the sinus. The internal carotid artery and the abducent nerve pass through the center of the sinus.

Tributaries

The cavernous sinus receives several tributaries from the superior ophthalmic vein, superficial middle cerebral vein, inferior cerebral veins, the sphenoparietal sinus, and middle meningeal vein.

The cavernous sinus drains into:

- the transverse sinus through the superior petrosal sinus;

- the internal jugular vein through the inferior petrosal sinus;

- the pterygoid plexus of veins through the emissary veins (passing through foramina in the base of the skull);

- the facial vein through the superior ophthalmic veins;

- and the opposite cavernous sinus via connections through the intercavernous sinuses and the basilar plexus.

Structures Drained

The cavernous sinus drains the orbit and the anterior part of the brain.

List of Clinical Correlates

- Cavernous sinus thrombosis

- Caroticocavernous sinus fistula

Learn more about this topic from other Elsevier products

Cavernous Sinus

ScienceDirect image

Cavernous sinus thrombosis (CST) is usually the result of a late complication of bacterial infection of the midface or facial or paranasal sinuses.

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