✓ The increasing use of the transsphenoidal approach to sellar tumors has created a need for more detailed information about the neurovascular relationships of the sphenoid sinus. To better define this anatomy, 25 sphenoid sinuses were examined in cadavers, with attention to the neural and vascular structures in the lateral wall of the sinus. Three structures produced prominent bulges into the lateral wall of the sinus; they were 1) the optic nerves, 2) the carotid arteries, and 3) the maxillary branches of the trigeminal nerve. Over half of these structures had a bone thickness of less than 0.5 mm separating them from the sphenoid sinus, and in a few cases, they were separated by only sinus mucosa and dura.
1) The optic canals protruded into the superolateral part of the sphenoid sinus in all except one side of one specimen. In 4% of the optic nerves, only the optic sheath and sinus mucosa separated the nerves from the sinus, and in 78%, less than a 0.5-mm thickness of bone separated them. 2) The carotid arteries produced a prominent bulge into the sphenoid sinus in all but one side of one specimen. In 8% of the carotid arteries there were areas where no bone separated the artery and the sinus. 3) The maxillary branches of trigeminal nerves bulged into the inferolateral part of the sphenoid sinus in all except one side of two specimens. One side of one specimen had no bone, and 70% had less than a 0.5-mm thickness of bone separating the nerve from the sinus. The importance of these findings in transsphenoidal surgery is reviewed.