European Radiology

, Volume 17, Issue 9, pp 2332–2344 | Cite as

Imaging the cranial nerves: part II: primary and secondary neoplastic conditions and neurovascular conflicts

  • Alexandra BorgesEmail author
  • Jan Casselman


There have been unprecedented improvements in cross-sectional imaging in the last decades. The emergence of volumetric CT, higher field MR scanners and higher resolution MR sequences is largely responsible for the increasing diagnostic yield of imaging in patients presenting with cranial nerve deficits. The introduction of parallel MR imaging in combination with small surface coils allows the depiction of submillimetric nerves and nerve branches, and volumetric CT and MR imaging is able to provide high quality multiplanar and curved reconstructions that can follow the often complex course of cranial nerves. Seeking the cause of a cranial nerve deficit is a common indication for imaging, and it is not uncommon that radiologists are the first specialists to see a patient with a cranial neuropathy. To increase the diagnostic yield of imaging, high-resolution studies with smaller fields of view are required. To keep imaging studies within a reasonable time frame, it is mandatory to tailor the study according to neuro-topographic testing. This review article focuses on the contribution of current imaging techniques in the depiction of primary and secondary neoplastic conditions affecting the cranial nerves as well as on neurovascular conflicts, an increasingly recognized cause of cranial neuralgias.


Cranial nerves High-resolution CT High-resolution MRI Cranial neuropathy Cranial neuralgia 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Radiology DepartmentInstituto Português de Oncologia Francisco Gentil- Centro de LisboaLisboa CodexPortugal
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyA. Z. St Jan Brugge and A. Z. St Augustinus Antwerpen HospitalsAntwerpBelgium

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