Prepontine cistern

Last revised by Raymond Chieng on 25 Apr 2023

The prepontine cistern, or simply pontine cistern, is an unpaired CSF-filled subarachnoid cistern located ventral to the pons and dorsal to the clivus.

It is bounded by arachnoid membranes which separate it from surrounding cisterns. 

A number of vessels and a cranial nerve course through this cistern and the content is somewhat variably described depending on how the borders of the cistern are defined. Using the arachnoid membranes as landmarks result in the least structures, limited to merely the basilar artery, some of its branches (pontine perforators and the origin of the AICA) and the transverse pontine veins 6

Preganglionic fibers of the trigeminal nerve pass through the prepontine cistern before entering Meckel's cave through porus trigeminus 7.

The abducens nerve (CN VI), often cited as traversing the prepontine cistern is more accurately considered coursing in the anterior pontine membrane and thus, not strictly speaking within the cistern but rather in its wall 6.


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Cases and figures

  • Subarachnoid cistern (illustration)
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  • Cisterns and CSF flow - Gray's anatomy illustration
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