Subarachnoid cisterns

Last revised by Dr Henry Knipe on 26 May 2020

The subarachnoid cisterns, or basal cisterns, are compartments within the subarachnoid space where the pia mater and arachnoid membrane are not in close approximation and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) forms pools or cisterns (Latin: "box"). As they are interconnected, their patency is essential for CSF circulation. Cisterns may have vessels and/or cranial nerves passing through them.

The named subarachnoid cisterns are (roughly from superior to inferior):

The cisterns are, in some instances, separated from each other by arachnoid membranes

Related pathology

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: subarachnoid cisterns
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  • Case 1: subarachnoid cisterns
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