A new concept in Dorello's canal microanatomy: the petroclival venous confluence

J Neurosurg. 1997 Jul;87(1):67-72. doi: 10.3171/jns.1997.87.1.0067.


The so-called Dorello's canal was studied in 32 specimens (16 human cadaver heads) injected with colored latex and fixed in formalin (28 specimens) or studied with microscopic and ultrastructural methods (four specimens). To avoid the differences usually encountered in the description of this area, the authors preferred to consider a larger space that they have named the petroclival venous confluence (PVC). It was located between two dural layers: inner (or cerebral) and outer (or osteoperiosteal). The PVC was quadrangular on transverse section. The posterior petroclinoid fold and the axial plane below the dural foramen of the abducent nerve (sixth cranial nerve) limited the PVC at the top and bottom, respectively. Its anteroinferior limit was the posterosuperior aspect of the upper clivus and outer layer of the dura mater. Its anterior limit was the vertical plane containing the posterior petroclinoid fold, and its posterior limit was the inner layer of the dura. The PVC was limited laterally by the medial aspect of the petrous bone apex and medially by the virtual sagittal plane extending the medial limit of the inferior petrosal sinus upward. The PVC was a venous space bordered by endothelium and continuous with the cavernous sinus, the basal sinus of the clivus, and the inferior petrosal sinus. There were trabeculations between the two dural layers. The petrosphenoidal ligament of Gruber may be regarded as a larger trabeculation, and it divided the PVC into a superior and an inferior compartment. The abducent nerve generally ran through the inferior compartment, where it was fixed to the surrounding dura mater. This nerve was only separated from venous blood by a meningeal sheath of varying thinness lined with endothelium. The clinical implications of these findings are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Abducens Nerve / anatomy & histology
  • Cadaver
  • Cranial Fossa, Posterior / anatomy & histology*
  • Cranial Fossa, Posterior / blood supply*
  • Cranial Fossa, Posterior / innervation
  • Humans
  • Petrous Bone / anatomy & histology*
  • Petrous Bone / blood supply*
  • Petrous Bone / innervation
  • Veins / anatomy & histology