Cranial meninges

Last revised by Dr Candace Makeda Moore on 03 Jul 2020

The cranial meninges (singular: meninx) surround the brain and are made up of three layers (from outermost to innermost):

  1. dura mater
  2. arachnoid mater
  3. pia mater

The dura mater can also be known as the pachymeninx. The arachnoid mater and pia mater are collectively known as the leptomeninges 3. The spinal meninges are similar but have some important differences. 

The meninges function to protect the brain but also provide a framework for blood vessels, nerves, lymphatics and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) 2.

There are two potential spaces:

There is one CSF-containing real space, subarachnoid space, between the arachnoid and pia mater. 

Arterial supply

There are several arteries that supply the dura with middle meningeal artery being the main contributor.

Innervation

The sensory innervation of the meninges is primarily by meningeal branches of both the trigeminal and vagus nerves with a smaller contribution from the upper cervical spinal nerves.

History and etymology

The word meninges, is the plural of meninx, and the same word in Ancient Greek means "membrane" 4. ​

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: layers of the scalp and meninges
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Figure 2: meninges
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