Introduction Sigmoid sinus (SS) variations have been classified variously in the literature. These classifications suffer from some form of shortcoming from a clinical point of view for their application.
Objective We propose a clinically relevant classification of the SS in relation to the posterior semicircular canal (PSCC) and to the exposure of the presigmoid dural plate. The positioning of the SS was analyzed with reference to the volume of the mastoid and to the level of mastoid pneumatization.
Methods A total of 94 formalin-preserved human cadaveric temporal bones were microdissected to carry out a complete mastoidectomy. The SS, the presigmoid dural plate, and the PSCC were exposed, and the position of the former was analyzed in relation to the latter two in order to classify the position of the SS into three grades.
Results Grade I had the best exposure of the presigmoid dura and of the PSCC, while grade III had the poorest exposure of the presigmoid dura and of the PSCC. Grade I SS was associated with good pneumatization and higher mastoid volumes compared with grades II and III.
Conclusions The SS exhibits considerable anatomic variability. A favorable positioning of the SS is associated with a large mastoid volume and pneumatization. A careful preoperative study of the imaging may help in understanding the positioning of the SS and the safety of various transmastoid approaches.