Blood Vessels and Cerebrospinal Fluid

In this section, we will be considering the blood vessels and CSF. This area is concerned with the structures that conduct fluids around the central nervous system, detailing the areas supplied with arterial blood, the venous drainage and the movement of CSF around the brain and spinal cord.

Arterial blood is essential to the CNS. The central nervous system, like any system of the body, requires constant oxygenation and nourishment. The brain has a particularly high oxygen demand – at rest it represents one fifth of the body’s total oxygen consumption. It is also very sensitive to oxygen deprivation, with ischemic cell death resulting within minutes. In this article in our blood vessels and CSF section, we shall look at the arterial structures supplying the brain and spinal cord.

The venous drainage of the central nervous system is complex, and rather uniquely, does not follow the arterial supply. The cerebrum, cerebellum and brainstem are drained by numerous veins, which empty into the dural venous sinuses. The spinal cord is supplied by anterior and posterior spinal veins, which drain into the internal and external vertebral plexuses. In this article within our blood vessels and CSF section, we will discuss the dural venous sinuses, cerebral veins, spinal veins, and consider the clinical relevance of the described anatomy.

Another whole article within the blood vessels and CSF section is dedicated to the cavernous sinus. This is particularly important structure due to its clinical implications, which are discussed in more detail in the article.

In the article on the ventricles within the CNS, we will discuss their structure and consider the function of the CSF too. The ventricular system is a set of communicating cavities within the brain. These structures are responsible for the production, transport and removal of cerebrospinal fluid, which bathes the central nervous system. In this article, we shall look at the functions and production of cerebrospinal fluid, and the anatomy of the ventricles that contains it.

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The Arterial Supply to the Central Nervous System

The Cavernous Sinus

The Dural Venous Sinuses

The Venous Drainage of the Central Nervous System

Fig 1.1 - The anatomical postioning of the ventricles of the brain.

The Ventricles of the Brain

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