Surgical approaches to the cavernous sinus: A microsurgical study

T. Inoue, A. L. Rhoton, D. Theele, M. E. Barry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

325 Scopus citations


The surgical approaches to the cavernous sinus were examined in 50 adult cadaveric cavernous sinuses using magnification of x3 to x40. The following approaches were examined: 1) the superior intradural approach directed through a frontotemporal craniotomy and the roof of the cavernous sinus; 2) the superior intradural approach combined with an extradural approach for removing the anterior clinoid process and unroofing the optic canal and orbit; 3) the superomedial approach directed through a supraorbital craniotomy and subfrontal exposure to the wall of the sinus adjacent to the pituitary gland; 4) the lateral intradural approach directed below the temporal lobe to the lateral wall of the sinus; 5) the lateral extradural approach for exposure of the internal carotid artery in the floor of the middle cranial fossa proximal to the sinus; 6) the combined lateral and inferolateral approach, in which the infratemporal fossa was opened and the full course of the petrous carotid artery and the lateral wall of the sinus were exposed and; 7) the inferomedial approach, in which the medial wall of the sinus was exposed by the transnasal-transsphenoidal route. It was clear that a single approach was not capable of proving access to all parts of the sinus. The intracavernous structures best exposed by each route are reviewed. The osseous relationships in the region were examined in dry skulls. Anatomic variants important in exposing the cavernous sinus are reviewed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)903-932
Number of pages30
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • Carotid-cavernous fistula
  • Cavernous sinus
  • Cranial nerves
  • Internal carotid artery
  • Intracranial aneurysm
  • Microsurgery
  • Microsurgical anatomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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