Vascular Anatomy of the brain

Vascular Anatomy of the brain

What is the basic normal vascular anatomy of the brain?


The cerebral vasculature is supplied by 4 arterial vessels—the paired internal carotid arteries (ICA) and the vertebral arteries (VA)—and can be divided into anterior and posterior circulations. The anterior circulation consists of the bilateral internal carotid arteries, which bifurcate into the anterior cerebral arteries (ACA) and the middle cerebral arteries (MCA).

The posterior circulation consists of the bilateral vertebral arteries and the basilar artery, along with its branches, including the bilateral posterior cerebral arteries (PCA). The anterior and posterior circulations are connected by the posterior communicating arteries (PCOM), and the bilateral anterior circulations are connected by the anterior communicating artery (ACOM); these connections compose the circle of Willis.


The cerebral venous system is composed of dural venous sinuses, along with deep and superficial veins. The deep cerebral venous system consists of paired internal cerebral veins and the basal veins of Rosenthal; these merge to form the paired veins of Galen, which in turn drain into the straight sinuses. The superficial veins drain into the dural venous sinuses; the veins of Trolard (superior anastomotic veins) and the veins of Labbé (inferior anastomotic veins) are major named large anastomotic cortical veins. The superior sagittal sinus, inferior sagittal sinus, and bilateral transverse sinuses merge at the torcula herophili (a.k.a., the venous sinus confluence).


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