Skull Base 2011; 21(1): 053-058
DOI: 10.1055/s-0030-1263282

© Thieme Medical Publishers

A New Look at an Old Canal

Assaf Marom1
  • 1Department of Anatomy and Anthropology, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel
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Publication History

Publication Date:
06 August 2010 (online)


Attempts to explain abducens vulnerability have centered around the petroclival segment of its pathway in the skull base, in particular, its relations to the Dorello's canal and the petrosphenoidal ligament of Grüber. This study aims to contribute to the definition of the Dorello's canal and to the understanding of abducens vulnerability from an evolutionary perspective. The petroclival region and the Dorello's canal in particular were examined in a sample of 86 primate skulls. The sample contains 20 Pan troglodytes (common chimpanzee), 35 Gorilla gorilla, 20 Pongo pygmaeus (orangoutan), and 11 Hylobates moloch (gibbon) skulls. Distance between the petrous apex and tip of the posterior clinoid process was measured using a 10-mm scale that was inserted into the endocranium. Complete absence of the Grüber ligament and an uninterrupted osseous circumference of the Dorello's canal (foramen) was demonstrated in all nonhuman primate species. Whatever the reason for the morphological difference between the human and ape Dorello's canal, it is without a doubt suggestive of the source of vulnerability of the abducens nerve, as the ligament of Grüber, unique to the human configuration, renders the contents of the Dorello's canal susceptible to compression against the cranial base.


Assaf Marom, M.D. , Ph.D. 

Department of Anatomy and Anthropology, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University

Ramat-Aviv 69978, Tel-Aviv, Israel