Anatomy of the orbital apex and cavernous sinus on high-resolution magnetic resonance images

Surv Ophthalmol. Jan-Feb 2000;44(4):303-23. doi: 10.1016/s0039-6257(99)00115-0.


Diseases of the orbital apex and cavernous sinus usually present with involvement of multiple cranial nerves, corresponding to the complex anatomy of the region. In nontraumatic disorders, magnetic resonance imaging is the diagnostic modality of choice. However, its capabilities can be fully used only with thorough knowledge of the complicated topographic relationships in this region. This article describes the imaging anatomy of the cranio-orbital junction and adjacent subarachnoid spaces. High-resolution magnetic resonance images of normal subjects are presented, and the results are compared with findings reported in the literature. The following anatomic structures can be visualized on high-resolution magnetic resonance images: extraocular muscles and corresponding connective tissue, major orbital and cerebral arteries, ophthalmic veins, cavernous sinus, and all sensory and motor cranial nerves of the eye along their intraorbital and intracranial course.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Artifacts
  • Carotid Artery, Internal / anatomy & histology
  • Cavernous Sinus / anatomy & histology*
  • Cranial Nerves / anatomy & histology
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Oculomotor Muscles / anatomy & histology
  • Ophthalmic Artery / anatomy & histology
  • Orbit / anatomy & histology*
  • Retinal Vein / anatomy & histology