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Mohamed A. Labib, Xiaochun Zhao, Lena Mary Houlihan, Irakliy Abramov, Joshua S. Catapano, Komal Naeem, Mark C. Preul, A. Samy Youssef, and Michael T. Lawton


The combined petrosal (CP) approach has been traditionally used to resect petroclival meningioma (PCM). The pretemporal transcavernous anterior petrosal (PTAP) approach has emerged as an alternative. A quantitative comparison of both approaches has not been made. This anatomical study compared the surgical corridors afforded by both approaches and identified key elements of the approach selection process.


Twelve cadaveric specimens were dissected, and 10 were used for morphometric analysis. Groups A and B (n = 5 in each) underwent the CP and PTAP approaches, respectively. The area of drilled clivus, lengths of cranial nerves (CNs) II–X, length of posterior circulation vessels, surgical area of exposure of the brainstem, and angles of attack anterior and posterior to a common target were measured and compared.


The area of drilled clivus was significantly greater in group A than group B (mean ± SD 88.7 ± 17.1 mm2 vs 48.4 ± 17.9 mm2, p < 0.01). Longer segments of ipsilateral CN IV (52.4 ± 2.33 mm vs 46.5 ± 3.71 mm, p < 0.02), CN IX, and CN X (9.91 ± 3.21 mm vs 0.00 ± 0.00 mm, p < 0.01) were exposed in group A than group B. Shorter portions of CN II (9.31 ± 1.28 mm vs 17.6 ± 6.89 mm, p < 0.02) and V1 (26.9 ± 4.62 mm vs 32.4 ± 1.93 mm, p < 0.03) were exposed in group A than group B. Longer segments of ipsilateral superior cerebellar artery (SCA) were exposed in group A than group B (36.0 ± 4.91 mm vs 25.8 ± 3.55 mm, p < 0.02), but there was less exposure of contralateral SCA (0.00 ± 0.00 mm vs 7.95 ± 3.33 mm, p < 0.01). There was no statistically significant difference between groups with regard to the combined area of the exposed cerebral peduncles and pons (p = 0.75). Although exposure of the medulla was limited, group A had significantly greater exposure of the medulla than group B (p < 0.01). Finally, group A had a smaller anterior angle of attack than group B (24.1° ± 5.62° vs 34.8° ± 7.51°, p < 0.03).


This is the first study to quantitatively identify the advantages and limitations of the CP and PTAP approaches from an anatomical perspective. Understanding these data will aid in designing maximally effective yet minimally invasive approaches to PCM.