Foramen Vesalii

Last revised by Tim Luijkx on 23 Jul 2019

The foramen Vesalii (plural: foramina Vesalii), also known as the foramen of Vesalius, sphenoidal emissary foramen, foramen venosus or canaliculus sphenoidal, is a tiny variably present foramen in the greater wing of the sphenoid bone. It transmits a sphenoidal emissary vein linking the pterygoid venous plexus in the infratemporal fossa to the cavernous sinus.

Its incidence varies markedly. A study of 100 cadaveric skulls found it present in only 17% and always single 2  whereas a study of only 34 cadaveric skulls found it more common on the right and bilateral in 23% and unilateral in 20% 3.

The foramen is located on the sphenoid bone

If an emissary vein is present it serves as an extracranial-intracranial connection, connecting the infratemporal fossa (pterygoid venous plexus) and the middle cranial fossa (cavernous sinus). Thus there is a risk of extracranial infected thrombus reaching the cavernous sinus.

Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564) has been called "the founder of modern anatomy", and amongst extensive investigations and writings he published the first extensive study of the sphenoid bone 4.

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