Skull-base foramina of the middle cranial fossa: Reassessment of normal variation with high-resolution CT

L. E. Ginsberg, S. W. Pruett, M. Y.M. Chen, A. D. Elster

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Abstract

PURPOSE: To evaluate by means of high-resolution CT the anatomic variations of the middle cranial fossa foramen. METHODS: We examined 123 CT studies of the temporal bone in patients with no evidence of disease that might after foraminal anatomy. A checklist of known variants and suspected structures was used as each case was systematically examined for the presence or absence of these foramina; variations in size, shape, and location; and relationship of structures to each other. Inclusion criteria were established to eliminate error. RESULTS: The foramen rotundum had a constant appearance. We identified the inferior rotundal canal in 16% of patients and the lateral rotundal canal in 8%. The foramen of Vesalius was present, at least unilaterally, in 80% of our cases. Asymmetry of the foramen of Vesalius did not indicate disease in our patient group. We did not find an inverse relationship between the size of the foramen of Vesalius and that of the ipsilateral foramen ovale. We found variations in the size and shape of the foramen ovale and its confluence with the foramen spinosum (n = 2) and the foramen of Vesalius (n = 8). We did not find an inverse relationship between the size of the foramen ovale and that of the foramen spinosum. The canaliculus innominatus for the lesser superficial petrosal nerve was identified in 16.3% of our patients. Variations of the foramen spinosum that we found include a medial bony defect (26.8%) and absence (3.2%). CONCLUSION: Although it is unlikely that well-formed foramen will be misinterpreted as diseased, it is nonetheless important to recognize foraminal variants and associated neurovascular anatomy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-291
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Neuroradiology
Volume15
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1994

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