Skull Base Venous Anatomy Associated with Endoscopic Skull Base Neurosurgery: A Literature Review

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


An understanding of the anatomy and function of the skull base venous channels is fundamentally important for safe performance of endoscopic surgery for skull base lesions. This review focuses on 4 skull base venous channels—namely, the intercavernous sinuses, basilar plexus, osseous veins, and inferior petroclival vein—because these have been less recognized by neurosurgeons than other major venous channels such as the inferior petrosal sinus. We reviewed the literature concerning these 4 venous channels and discussed their anatomy and function. The literature review was mainly based on an electronic search in PubMed using the following terms: “intercavernous sinus,” “basilar plexus,” “emissary veins,” “diploic vein,” “basilar plexus,” “intraosseous vein,” “inferior petroclival/petro-occipital vein,” and “transclival.” A total of 50 articles were included in this review. Detailed anatomic features of the 4 structures have been elucidated in the literature. All of these venous channels run along the skull base and have multiple connections with surrounding venous structures. Because of their location, they occasionally obstruct the surgical view and are sometimes implicated in intraoperative hemorrhage, air embolism during endoscopic skull base surgery, and postoperative hematoma. They usually function as a venous reservoir of cranial venous drainage; however, they are less often directly involved in normal brain perfusion. Knowledge about the functional and morphologic anatomy of the skull base venous channels is important for neurosurgeons to avoid unexpected complications during endoscopic skull base surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-414
Number of pages10
JournalWorld neurosurgery
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Dec


  • Basilar plexus
  • Clival diploic vein
  • Endoscopic
  • Inferior petro-occipital vein
  • Inferior petroclival vein
  • Intercavernous sinus
  • Jugular tubercle
  • Rektorzik venous plexus
  • Skull base
  • Transclival

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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