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The transoral approaches have become commonplace in modern neurosurgical practice for treatment of ventral midline lesions of the clivus and upper cervical spine. Although the standard technique of transoral surgery is conceptually simple, anatomic relationships are not so readily appreciated. The present study was undertaken in an effort to define more clearly the midline anatomic relationships as they pertain to the standard transoral and transpalatine operations. The anatomic relationships involved in planning microsurgical transoral approaches were examined in 15 human cadavers. Landmarks approximating the midline of the skull base and the upper cervical spinal canal were defined to assist the surgeon's orientation. Measurements were made in axial, sagital, and parasagittal planes to various neurovascular structures in the posterior cranial fossa and upper cervical spinal canal. The study revealed that, for the standard transoral and transoral-transpalatine dissections, the carotid arteries, abducens nerves, interior petrosal sinuses, hypoglossal nerves, and vertebral arteries would be a greatest risk being 0.76, 1.06, 1.51, 1.34, and 1.52 cm from the midline at specified locations. The measurements and the computed tomography images provide a useful reference for the surgeon.