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Eberval Gadelha Figueiredo, Joseph M. Zabramski, Pushpa Deshmukh, Neil R. Crawford, Mark C. Preul, and Robert F. Spetzler

Object

The management of wide-necked, giant, or unsuccessfully coil-treated basilar apex aneurysms requires a wide exposure, for both working area and linear visualization of the basilar artery (BA). Cranial-based approaches, such as the transcavernous approach, have been proposed to deal with such aneurysms; whether abbreviated forms of this approach might provide similar exposure remains controversial. The authors examine this issue quantitatively.

Methods

Four alcohol-preserved cadaveric heads injected with pigmented silicone were prepared for bilateral dissection. After completing an orbitozygomatic craniotomy, the surgeons worked in a reverse direction, performing the transcavernous approach in five steps: 1) posterior clinoidectomy; 2) cavernous sinus opening; 3) anterior clinoidectomy; 4) cutting of the distal dural ring; and 5) cutting of the proximal dural ring.

Performing the complete transcavernous approach significantly increased the working area and linear exposure of the BA compared with abbreviated forms of the approach (p < 0.05). Opening the roof of the cavernous sinus significantly increased the working area compared with posterior clinoidectomy alone (p = 0.014); however, additional gains in exposure required completing the transcavernous approach. Resection of the anterior clinoid process combined with opening of only the distal dural ring did not significantly increase the working area or linear exposure of the BA.

Conclusions

The complete transcavernous approach significantly increases the working area and linear exposure of the BA compared with the more conservative forms of approach.

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Rungsak Siwanuwatn, Pushpa Deshmukh, Eberval Gadelha Figueiredo, Neil R. Crawford, Robert F. Spetzler, and Mark C. Preul

Object

The authors quantitatively assessed the working areas and angles of attack associated with retrosigmoid (RS), combined petrosal (CP), and transcochlear (TC) craniotomies.

Methods

Four silicone-injected cadaveric heads were bilaterally dissected using three approaches progressing from the least to the most extensive. Working areas were determined using the Optotrak 3020 system on the upper and middle thirds of the petroclivus and brainstem. Angles of attack were studied using the Elekta SurgiScope at the Dorello canal and the origin of the anterior inferior cerebellar artery (AICA).

The TC approach provided significantly greater (p < 0.001) working areas at the petroclivus (755.6 ± 130.1 mm2) and brainstem (399.3 ± 68.2 mm2) than the CP (354.1 ± 60.3 and 289.7 ± 69.9 mm2) and RS approaches (292.4 ± 59.9, 177.2 ± 54.2 mm2, respectively). The brainstem working area associated with the CP approach was significantly larger (p < 0.001) than that associated with the RS route. There was no difference in the petroclival working area comparing the CP and RS approaches (p = 0.149). The horizontal and vertical angles of attack achieved using the TC approach were wider than those of the CP and RS at the Dorello canal and the origin of the AICA (p < 0.001).

Conclusions

The CP approach offers a more extensive working area than the RS for lesions involving the anterolateral surface of the brainstem, but not for petroclival lesions. The TC approach provides the widest corridor, improving the working area and angle of attack to both areas, but hearing must be sacrificed and the facial nerve is at risk.