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An Anatomic Assessment of the Intercavernous Sinuses and Review of the Literature.

Introduction  As expanded endoscopic endonasal approaches are gaining popularity, a thorough understanding of the anatomy of the intercavernous sinuses is pertinent to avoid bleeding complications. There have been few studies reporting the presence and dimensions of the anterior intercavernous sinus (AIS), posterior intercavernous sinus (PIS), and inferior intercavernous sinus (IIS). We performed a cadaveric study to better understand these structures. Methods  Colored latex was injected into the arterial and venous trees of 17 cadaveric heads. Dissections assessed the presence and dimensions of the AIS, PIS, and IIS. In an additional three specimens, the sellar contents were subjected to histological analysis. Results  Of the 20 total specimens, 13 (65%) demonstrated the gross presence of all three sinuses. In six specimens (30%), only the AIS and PIS could be identified, and in one specimen, only an AIS and IIS were identified. An AIS was identified in all 20 (100%) specimens, PIS in 18 (88%), and an IIS in 14 (70%). In two specimens (10%), the AIS covered the entire face of the sella. Dimensions of the AIS averaged 1.7 × 11.7 × 2.8 mm, PIS averaged 1.5 × 10.8 × 1.7 mm, and IIS averaged 8.7 × 11.8 × 1.0 mm when present. Conclusion  All examined specimens demonstrated the presence of an AIS, and most had a PIS. The presence of an IIS was more variable. Preoperative awareness of these sinuses is helpful in planning transsphenoidal surgery to minimize the risk of bleeding.

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