Masses and malformations of the third ventricle: normal anatomic relationships and differential diagnoses

Radiographics. 2011 Nov-Dec;31(7):1889-905. doi: 10.1148/rg.317115083.


The third ventricle lies in the center of the brain. It is surrounded by critical nuclear structures (the hypothalamus and thalami) and important glandular structures (the pituitary and pineal glands). Although a wide array of pathologic processes may involve the third ventricle, most are extrinsic masses. By understanding the anatomic boundaries of the third ventricle and its relationship to adjacent structures, it is possible to create short lists of differential diagnoses. Third ventricle masses can be classified as arising in or immediately adjacent to one of five locations: anterior, posterior, inferior, foramen of Monro, and intraventricular. Anterior masses involve the optic and infundibular recesses, posterior masses affect or arise in the posterior commissure and pineal gland, and inferior masses involve or affect the ventricle floor. Masses may also arise at or adjacent to the foramen of Monro or entirely within the third ventricle. Of the intraventricular masses, chordoid glioma-a rare low-grade primary neoplasm-is unique to the third ventricle. Congenital malformations of the third ventricle are uncommon and are most often noted during childhood. Most commonly, these anomalies represent malformations of the neurohypophysis, which may manifest as hormonal abnormalities, or stenosis of the aqueduct of Sylvius, which manifests as dilatation of the third and lateral ventricles (hydrocephalus).

MeSH terms

  • Brain Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Humans
  • Radiography
  • Third Ventricle / abnormalities*
  • Third Ventricle / diagnostic imaging
  • Third Ventricle / pathology