The hypoglossal canal: Normal MR enhancement pattern

F. Voyvodic, A. Whyte, J. Slavotinek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE: To review the anatomy of the hypoglossal canal and present the normal precontrast and postcontrast MR appearance of axial posterior fossa images. METHODS: Thirty-one axial MR examinations of the normal posterior fossa were retrospectively reviewed. RESULTS: The hypoglossal canals are well seen on 3-mm-thick axial MR images of the posterior fossa (28 [90%] of 31 patients). Symmetric intense intracanalicular enhancement after intravenous administration of gadopentetate dimeglumine is routine, typically with minor anterior extension into the nasopharyngeal region (28 [100%] of 28). A linear filling defect traversing the enhanced canal often is seen (21 [75%] of 28) and may represent hypoglossal nerve rootlets. Circumferential enhancement of the meninges at the level of the foramen magnum was a common finding (19 [64%] of 28). CONCLUSION: Enhancement within the hypoglossal canal with anterior extension beneath the skull base is a normal finding. This pattern is characteristic enough on MR imaging to aid interpretation of skull base lesions and to exclude the possibility of a mass within the hypoglossal canal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1707-1710
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Neuroradiology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Posterior fossa, magnetic resonance
  • Skull, anatomy


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