Clivus (anatomy)

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Superior view of the clivus
Longitudinal section of the head and neck showing the anatomical relation of the dens (labeled odontoid process of axis). Clivus is the inferior part of the slope at top left, the upper part of the slope belongs to the sphenoid bone.
Latin Clivus
Gray's p.148
TA A02.1.00.051
FMA 54376
Anatomical terms of bone

The clivus (Latin for "slope") is a part of the cranium, a shallow depression behind the dorsum sellæ that slopes obliquely backward. It forms a gradual sloping process at the anterior most portion of the basilar occipital bone at its junction with the sphenoid bone. On axial planes, it sits just posterior to the sphenoid sinuses. Just lateral to the clivus bilaterally is the foramen lacerum (the internal carotid artery reaches the middle cranial fossa above the foramen lacerum), proximal to its anastamosis with the Circle of Willis. Posterior to the clivus is the basilar artery.

The pons sits on the clivus.

Clivus is also used as an abbreviated term for the clivus ocularis which is the sloping inner wall of the retina as it dips into the foveola in the macula of the eye.

Relation of the clivus and dens[edit]

The clivus is an important landmark for checking for anatomical atlanto-occipital alignment; the clivus, when viewed on a lateral C-spine X-ray, forms a line which, if extended, is known as Wackenheim's clivus line. Wackenheim's clivus line should pass through the dens of the axis or be tangential to it.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ McKenna DA, Roche CJ, Lee KW, Torreggiani WC, Duddalwar VA. Atlanto-occipital dislocation: case report and discussion. Can J Emerg Med 2006; 8(1):50-3. Available at: link and link. Accessed on: December 7, 2006.

Additional Images[edit]

External links[edit]

This article incorporates text from a public domain edition of Gray's Anatomy.