The significance of asymmetry of the foramen of Vesalius.
American Journal of Neuroradiology, January 1988
C F Lanzieri, P M Duchesneau, S A Rosenbloom, A S Smith, A E Rosenbaum, Lanzieri, C F, Duchesneau, P M, Rosenbloom, S A, Smith, A S, Rosenbaum, A E
The foramen of Vesalius is a small, variable but consistently symmetrical structure located anteromedial to the foramen ovale and lateral to the foramen rotundum and vidian canal. It transmits an emissary vein through which the cavernous sinus and pterygoid plexus communicate. Fifty high-resolution CT scans of the skull base and two three-dimensional (Cemax) reconstructions were reviewed to determine criteria for defining the normal appearance of the foramen of Vesalius. Three normal types were classified: (1) a well-formed foramen, 1-2 mm in size (n = 32); (2) lack of visualization of the foramen (n = 11); and (3) partial assimilation of the foramen with the foramen ovale (n = 7). The foramen was remarkably symmetric in a large number of cases (n = 48). Asymmetry signified abnormality in four of the six cases. Abnormal causes of asymmetry included invasion by nasopharyngeal melanoma, angiofibroma, carotid cavernous fistula with drainage through the emissary vein, and neurofibromatosis. Thus, for these usually symmetric foramina of Vesalius, asymmetry is more likely the result of a pathologic process than a normal variant.
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