MR anatomy of the proximal cisternal segment of the trochlear nerve: neurovascular relationships and landmarks

Radiology. 2002 Apr;223(1):31-8. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2231010612.


Purpose: To assess the anatomic features and vascular relationships of the proximal portion of the cisternal segment of the trochlear nerve.

Materials and methods: In 30 subjects (60 nerves) and in one patient with right superior oblique myokymia (SOM), the anatomy of the trochlear nerve was depicted with three-dimensional (3D) Fourier transformation constructive interference in steady state (CISS) magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, whereas the adjacent vessels were detected with 3D time-of-flight (TOF) MR imaging before and after gadopentetate dimeglumine administration. The images were evaluated with respect to the identification of the trochlear nerve, the distance between the point of exit (PE) and the midline, the visualized length, the vascular relationships, and the distance between the PE and the point of neurovascular contact.

Results: 3D CISS MR imaging depicted the proximal cisternal segment of the trochlear nerve in the transverse, sagittal, and coronal planes in 57 (95%), 51 (85%), and 48 (80%) of 60 nerves, respectively. The distance from the midline to the PE was 3-9 mm, and the maximum visualized length of the trochlear nerve was 1-14 mm. An arterial-trochlear neurovascular contact was seen at the root exit zone (REZ) in eight (14%) nerves and at a mean distance of 3.4 mm distal to the PE in 29 nerves (51%). The patient with SOM had arterial-trochlear neurovascular contact at the REZ.

Conclusion: Use of 3D CISS sequences and 3D TOF sequences with or without gadopentetate dimeglumine enables accurate identification of the proximal cisternal segment of the trochlear nerve and its neurovascular relationships.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain / blood supply
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Trochlear Nerve / anatomy & histology*
  • Trochlear Nerve / blood supply