Great cerebral vein of Galen
The great cerebral vein (vein of Galen) is a deep cerebral vein formed by the basal veins of Rosenthal, the internal cerebral and some superior cerebellar veins. It is situated in the quadrigeminal cistern, posterior to the brainstem and third ventricle.
The main function of the vein of Galen is to drain blood from the superior cerebellum, interpeduncular fossa, inferior horn of the lateral ventricle, parahippocampal gyrus, corpus callosum, midbrain, and choroid plexuses of the third and lateral ventricles.
|Drains from||Internal cerebral veins, basal veins|
|Tributaries||Superior cerebellar veins, callosal veins, inferior cerebral veins|
|Drains to||Straight sinus|
|Drainage area||Cerebellum, interpeduncular fossa, inferior horn of the lateral ventricle, medial parietal-occipital region, parahippocampal gyrus, midbrain, choroid plexuses of the third and lateral ventricles|
This article will discuss the anatomy and function of the great cerebral vein.
Anatomy and function
The great vein of Galen is a short and thick vein formed anteroinferiorly to the splenium of corpus callosum by the three major veins of the basal aspect of the brain: the basal vein of Rosenthal, internal cerebral vein and some superior cerebellar veins.
The great cerebral vein traverses the quadrigeminal cistern of the brain, which is why this area is sometimes referred to as Galen's cistern. Within the cistern, the vein takes a posterior course, curving around the inferior aspect of the splenium of corpus callosum and reaching its posterior side. Posterior to the splenium of the corpus callosum, the great cerebral vein joins the inferior sagittal sinus to form the straight sinus, which is located within the junction between the falx and the tentorium cerebelli.
During its relatively short course, the vein of Galen has several tributaries:
- The inferior cerebral veins that drain the medial parietal-occipital region of the brain.
- The superior cerebellar vein that drains the superior portion of the cerebellum.
- The callosal veins that drain the corpus callosum.
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Vein of Galen malformation
The great cerebral vein of Galen can be a site of arteriovenous malformation (AVM) that develops in the fetal period. This condition is sometimes referred to as a vein of Galen aneurysmal malformation. AVM is a rare but serious malformation in which the abnormal tangle of blood vessels that disrupts the blood flow in the brain. This condition can lead to hydrocephalus, bleeding, or seizures which is why it is potentially fatal.