Imaging of the cavernous sinus lesions

Diagn Interv Imaging. 2014 Sep;95(9):849-59. doi: 10.1016/j.diii.2013.04.013. Epub 2013 Jun 12.


This educational paper reviews the normal anatomy of the cavernous sinus (CS) and the imaging findings of common and uncommon lesions of this region. CS lesions may arise from different components of the CS or from adjacent structures and spaces. They can be classified as tumoral, inflammatory/infectious, vascular and congenital. Tumoral lesions include benign (meningiomas, pituitary adenomas, schwannomas) and malignant neoplasms (chondrosarcomas, chordomas, nasopharyngeal carcinomas, leukemia, metastases). Inflammatory/infectious conditions comprise: Tolosa Hunt, abscess, Lemierre syndrome and thrombophlebitis. Vascular lesions include: hemangiomas, carotido-cavernous fistula, aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations. Congenital conditions include the epidermoid cyst, dermoid cyst and fatty deposits. Although imaging features of non-vascular CS diseases are most often non-specific, careful analysis of the adjacent structures suggests the correct diagnosis. In vascular pathology, characteristic MR imaging findings are observed.

Keywords: Cavernous sinus; Imaging; Inflammatory; Neoplasm; Vascular.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Brain Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Cavernous Sinus / pathology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Reference Values
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*