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Cavernous sinus

Anatomy and function of the cavernous sinus.

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Hello everyone! This is Matt from Kenhub, and in today's tutorial, we are going to be looking at the cavernous sinus. The cavernous sinus is one of the dural venous sinuses responsible for venous drainage in the brain. So, what are dural venous sinuses?

Dural venous sinuses are intracranial venous channels found between the endosteal and meningeal layers of the dura mater. These incompressible venous channels are responsible for the drainage of venous blood from the brain and the meninges to the internal jugular vein. The dural venous sinuses are valveless which allows for the bidirectional flow of blood. There are six paired and four unpaired dural venous sinuses.

The cavernous sinus – also known as the parasellar sinus – is a paired sinus located on either side of the sella turcica of the sphenoid bone. It is the only one of the paired dural venous sinuses that communicates with each other via an anterior and a posterior intercavernous branch that arches over the diaphragma sellae of the pituitary gland which are known as the intercavernous sinuses.

In addition to acting as a conduit for venous blood, the spongy cavities of the cavernous sinus also facilitate the passage of numerous vessels including the third cranial nerve (the oculomotor nerve), the fourth cranial nerve (the trochlear nerve), the ophthalmic division of the trigeminal nerve (the ophthalmic nerve), the maxillary division of the trigeminal nerve (the maxillary nerve), the sixth cranial nerve (the abducens nerve), and the cavernous part of the internal carotid artery.

The cavernous sinus receives venous blood from the sphenoparietal sinus as well as the superior and inferior ophthalmic veins and efferent hypophyseal veins. The drainage of the cavernous sinus is more complicated than the other dural venous sinuses. It drains via the superior petrosal sinus to the sigmoid sinus, via the inferior petrosal sinus to jugular bulb directly, and through the venous plexus on the internal carotid artery to the basilar plexuses.

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