Surgical anatomy and landmarks for the basal vein of Rosenthal

Restricted access


The basal vein of Rosenthal (BV) courses from the premesencephalic cistern, through the ambient cistern, and terminates in the quadrigeminal cistern. The aim of this study was to describe and quantitate the surgical anatomy of this structure and specifically to provide landmarks for identifying this vessel along its course. These data may be of use, for example, to surgeons using subtemporal operative approaches through regions where this vessel is concealed.


The authors examined 15 latex-injected adult cadaveric brains (30 sides) to delineate the morphological characteristics of the BV. Dissections of the BV were then performed and measurements were made between this structure and the tentorial incisura at the anterior, middle, and posterior borders of the lateral midbrain.

All specimens were found to have a left and right BV with varying morphological characteristics. The mean distance between the BV and posterior cerebral artery at the midpoint of the lateral midbrain was 16 mm. The BV was always found superomedial to the posterior cerebral artery along the lateral aspect of the midbrain, and the BV ranged in diameter from 1 to 5 mm. The BV drained into the vein of Galen in all but two specimens. The mean distances from the tentorial edge to the BV at the anterior, middle, and posterior borders of the lateral midbrain were 11, 13, and 4 mm, respectively. No statistically significant differences were found when comparing left and right sides or male and female specimens.


The authors hope that these data will help the neurosurgeon operating near the BV to avoid injury to this important structure.

Abbreviation used in this paper:BV = basal vein of Rosenthal.

Article Information

Address reprint requests to: R. Shane Tubbs, Ph.D., Pediatric Neurosurgery, Children's Hospital, 1600 7th Avenue South ACC 400, Birmingham, Alabama 35233. email:

© AANS, except where prohibited by US copyright law.



  • View in gallery

    Artist's illustration of the BV as it travels around the lateral aspect of the mesencephalon.

  • View in gallery

    Upper: Inferior view of the BV after transection of the mesencephalon. The arrowhead indicates the BV. Lower: Artist's illustration of the view shown in the upper panel demonstrating additional tributaries.

  • View in gallery

    Lateral view of the midbrain demonstrating the distances measured in this study from the tentorial edge to the BV at the anterior, middle, and posterior borders of the lateral mesencephalon (arrows).


  • 1

    Browder JKaplan HA: Cerebral Dural Sinuses and their Tributaries Springfield, IllCharles C Thomas1976. 94

  • 2

    Grand WHopkins LN: Vasculature of the Brain and Cranial Base: Variations in Clinical Anatomy New YorkThieme1999. 186

  • 3

    Huang YPWolf BSThe basal cerebral vein and its tributaries. Newton THPoos DG: Radiology of the Skull and Brain St. LouisMosby1974. 21112154

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 4

    Ono MRhoton AL JrPeace DRodriguez RJ: Microsurgical anatomy of the deep venous system of the brain. Neurosurgery 15:6216571984

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 5

    Padget DH: The cranial venous system in man in reference to development, adult configuration, and relation to the arteries. Am J Anat 98:3073551956

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 6

    San Millán Ruíz DGailloud PRüfenacht DADelavelle JHenry FFasel JH: The craniocervical venous system in relation to cerebral venous drainage. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol 23:150015082002

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 7

    Suzuki YIkeda HShimadu MIkeda YMatsumoto K: Variations of the basal vein: identification using three-dimensional CT angiography. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol 22:6706762001

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 8

    Tubbs RSOakes WJ: Relationships of the cisternal segment of the trochlear nerve. J Neurosurg 89:101510191998

  • 9

    Wackenheim ABraun JP: The Veins of the Posterior Fossa: Normal and Pathologic Findings BerlinSpringer-Verlag1978. 9

  • 10

    Wolf BSHuang YPNewman CM: The lateral anastomotic mesencephalic vein and other variations in drainage of the basal cerebral vein. Am J Roentgenol Radium Ther Nucl Med 89:4114221963

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 11

    Zajgner J: Normal relationship between basal vein and posterior cerebral artery. Acta Radiol Diagn (Stockh) 9:5495521969



All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 164 164 18
Full Text Views 165 165 4
PDF Downloads 68 68 4
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0


Google Scholar