Child's Nervous System

, Volume 34, Issue 8, pp 1451–1458 | Cite as

A comprehensive review of the clivus: anatomy, embryology, variants, pathology, and surgical approaches

  • Rabjot Rai
  • Joe IwanagaEmail author
  • Ghaffar Shokouhi
  • Marios Loukas
  • Martin M. Mortazavi
  • Rod J. Oskouian
  • R. Shane Tubbs
Review Paper



The clivus is a bony structure formed by the fusion of the basioccipital and basispheniod bone at the sphenooccipital synchondrosis. This downward sloping structure from the dorsum sellae to the foramen magnum is derived from mesoderm and ectoderm properties.


This comprehensive review of the clivus will discuss its basic anatomy, embryology, pathological findings, and surgical implications. The clivus is an endochondral bone, formed under two processes; first, a cartilaginous base is developed, and it is secondly reabsorbed and replaced with bone. Knowledge of its embryological structure and growth of development will clarify the pathogenesis of anatomical variants and pathological findings of the clivus.


Understanding the anatomy including proximity to anatomical structures, adjacent neurovasculature properties, and anatomical variants will aid neurosurgeons in their surgical management when treating pathological findings around the clivus.


Clivus Skull base Notochord Anatomy Embryology Surgery 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rabjot Rai
    • 1
  • Joe Iwanaga
    • 2
    Email author
  • Ghaffar Shokouhi
    • 3
  • Marios Loukas
    • 1
  • Martin M. Mortazavi
    • 4
  • Rod J. Oskouian
    • 5
  • R. Shane Tubbs
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Anatomical SciencesSt. George’s UniversitySt. George’sGrenada
  2. 2.Seattle Science FoundationSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Neurosciences Research CenterTabriz University of Medical SciencesTabrizIran
  4. 4.California Institute of NeuroscienceThousand OakesUSA
  5. 5.Swedish Neuroscience InstituteSeattleUSA

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