Purpose: Although the craniocervical junction has a complex anatomical structure associated with clinical diseases, its ventral venous network has not been well studied. This study aimed to clarify the extracranial ventral venous structure at the craniocervical junction. Methods: Head computed tomography digital subtraction venography (CT-DSV) images of 273 patients (age 6 months to 93 years) taken at our department were retrospectively analyzed. We analyzed the frequency and anatomical features of the venous channels, as well as their upstream and downstream connections with the surrounding channels at the ventral craniocervical junction, from the level of the hypoglossal canal to the second cervical vertebra. Results: In 54% of the cases, the vein descended from the anterior condylar confluence, running medially along the basioccipital and fusing with its counterpart in the midline at the level of the atlanto-occipital membrane. Furthermore, 24% of this vein was connected caudally to the anterior external vertebral venous plexus. We also identified venous channels, either as a sole vein or venous plexus, on the tip of the odontoid process (10%), which has not been well described previously. The vein around the odontoid process was connected to several veins, including the aforementioned vein anterior to the condyle and the anterior internal vertebral venous plexus. Conclusions: CT-DSV analysis revealed a detailed venous architecture ventral to the craniocervical junction. Venous structures identified in this study may be involved in diseases in this area.
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