Microsurgical anatomy of the sellar region

J Neurosurg. 1975 Sep;43(3):288-98. doi: 10.3171/jns.1975.43.3.0288.


Fifty adult sellae and surrounding structures were examined under magnification with special attention given to anatomical variants important to the transfrontal and transsphenoidal surgical approaches. The discovered variants considered disadvantageous to the transsphenoidal approach were as follows: 1) large anterior intercavernous sinuses extending anterior to the gland just posterior to the anterior sellar wall in 10%; 2) a thin diaphragm in 62%, or a diaphragm with a large opening in 56%; 3) carotid arteries exposed in the sphenoid sinus with no bone over them in 4%; 4) carotid arteries that approach within 4 mm of midline within the sella in 10%; 5) optic canals with bone defects exposing the optic nerves in the sphenoid sinus in 4%; 6) a thick sellar floor in 18%; 7) sphenoid sinuses with no major septum in 28% or a sinus with the major septum well off midline in 47%; and 8) a presellar type of sphenoid sinus with no obvious bulge of the sellar floor into the sphenoid sinus in 20%. Variants considered disadvantageous to the transfrontal approach were found as follows: 1) a prefixed chiasm in 10% and a normal chiasm with 2 mm or less between the chiasm and tuberculum sellae in 14%; 2) an acute angle between the optic nerves as they entered the chiasm in 25%; 3) a prominent tuberculum sella protruding above a line connecting the optic nerves as they entered the optic canals in 44%; and 4) carotid arteries approaching within 4 mm of midline within or above the sella turcica in 12%.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carotid Arteries / anatomy & histology
  • Carotid Arteries / surgery
  • Cerebral Arteries / anatomy & histology
  • Cerebral Arteries / surgery
  • Cranial Sinuses / anatomy & histology*
  • Cranial Sinuses / surgery
  • Humans
  • Microsurgery*
  • Ophthalmic Artery / anatomy & histology
  • Ophthalmic Artery / surgery
  • Optic Nerve / anatomy & histology*
  • Optic Nerve / surgery
  • Pituitary Gland / anatomy & histology*
  • Pituitary Gland / surgery
  • Sella Turcica / anatomy & histology*
  • Sella Turcica / surgery