Cironi K, Wang C, Iwanaga J, Lockwood J, Mathkour M, Bui CJ, Dumont AS, Tubbs RS
Objective The venous plexus (internal carotid venous plexus) surrounding the petrous part of the internal carotid artery (ICAp) is said to be one drainage pathway of the cavernous sinus. These veins have many potential clinical implications including iatrogenic hemorrhage during surgical approaches to the skull base and carotid-cavernous fistulas. Because there are few morphological data about this venous plexus at the skull base, this descriptive/quantitative study was performed to elucidate its anatomy. Methods Six latex-injected cadaveric heads (twelve sides) were dissected via a superior craniotomy approach in which the ICAp was exposed by drilling away the overlying bone. A venous plexus surrounding parts of the ICAp in all sides was documented along with the positions of its major tributaries and their connections. Results The veins were most concentrated near the junction of the ICAp and the cavernous part of the internal carotid artery, and usually along the medial and lateral sides of the ICAp. Tributaries included branches joining the basilar venous plexus posteriorly and branches joining the veins surrounding the foramen ovale anteriorly. Conclusion Detailed knowledge of the anatomy of this venous plexus surrounding the ICAp is useful for interpreting imaging of the skull base and valuable for surgeons operating in this part of the cranium.