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Neurosurgery. 1997 Sep;41(3):615-9; discussion 619-20.

Venous drainage of the inferolateral temporal lobe in relationship to transtemporal/transtentorial approaches to the cranial base.

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Department of Neurological Surgery, Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, Illinois, USA.



Intimate to the application of lateral transtemporal approaches to the cranial base are the identification, manipulation, and/or the sacrifice of the venous anatomy of the inferolateral temporal lobe and the superior petrosal sinus and the transection of the tentorium. This study demonstrates the relationship and variability of the venous drainage of the lateral and inferior surfaces of the temporal lobe.


Twenty-one specially prepared, injected cadaver specimens yielded 40 temporal lobes for examination. The venous systems in these specimens were traced from their origins on the temporal lobe (venous drainage complexes) to the transverse/petrosal sinuses, and the geometry of these venous complexes (venous configuration) was noted. The measurements of each complex's entry to the sinuses were noted.


Four distinct venous drainage complexes were identified: 1) the lateral complex, 2) the anteroinferior complex, 3) the medial-inferior complex, and 4) the posteroinferior complex. Three basic venous configurations were found: 1) the candelabra of veins uniting to form one large draining vein, 2) multiple independent draining veins, and 3) venous lakes running in the tentorium before entering the sinuses. The lateral complex, incorporating the classic "vein of Labbé," was present in 100% of the specimens. However, in the majority of cases, it did not represent the dominant venous drainage of the lateral and inferior surfaces of the temporal lobe.


An understanding of the complexity and diversity of the venous drainage complexes and their configurations is necessary to avoid venous complications during lateral cranial base surgery.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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