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Daniel D. Cavalcanti, Mark C. Preul, M. Yashar S. Kalani and Robert F. Spetzler


The aim of this study was to enhance the planning and use of microsurgical resection techniques for intrinsic brainstem lesions by better defining anatomical safe entry zones.


Five cadaveric heads were dissected using 10 surgical approaches per head. Stepwise dissections focused on the actual areas of brainstem surface that were exposed through each approach and an analysis of the structures found, as well as which safe entry zones were accessible via each of the 10 surgical windows.


Thirteen safe entry zones have been reported and validated for approaching lesions in the brainstem, including the anterior mesencephalic zone, lateral mesencephalic sulcus, intercollicular region, peritrigeminal zone, supratrigeminal zone, lateral pontine zone, supracollicularzone, infracollicularzone, median sulcus of the fourth ventricle, anterolateral and posterior median sulci of the medulla, olivary zone, and lateral medullary zone. A discussion of the approaches, anatomy, and limitations of these entry zones is included.


A detailed understanding of the anatomy, area of exposure, and safe entry zones for each major approach allows for improved surgical planning and dissemination of the techniques required to successfully resect intrinsic brainstem lesions.

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Nikolay L. Martirosyan, Joseph Georges, Jennifer M. Eschbacher, Daniel D. Cavalcanti, Ali M. Elhadi, Mohammed G. Abdelwahab, Adrienne C. Scheck, Peter Nakaji, Robert F. Spetzler and Mark C. Preul


The authors sought to assess the feasibility of a handheld visible-wavelength confocal endomicroscope imaging system (Optiscan 5.1, Optiscan Pty., Ltd.) using a variety of rapid-acting fluorophores to provide histological information on gliomas, tumor margins, and normal brain in animal models.


Mice (n = 25) implanted with GL261 cells were used to image fluorescein sodium (FNa), 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA), acridine orange (AO), acriflavine (AF), and cresyl violet (CV). A U251 glioma xenograft model in rats (n = 5) was used to image sulforhodamine 101 (SR101). A swine (n = 3) model with AO was used to identify confocal features of normal brain. Images of normal brain, obvious tumor, and peritumoral zones were collected using the handheld confocal endomicroscope. Histological samples were acquired through biopsies from matched imaging areas. Samples were visualized with a benchtop confocal microscope. Histopathological features in corresponding confocal images and photomicrographs of H & E–stained tissues were reviewed.


Fluorescence induced by FNa, 5-ALA, AO, AF, CV, and SR101 and detected with the confocal endomicroscope allowed interpretation of histological features. Confocal endomicroscopy revealed satellite tumor cells within peritumoral tissue, a definitive tumor border, and striking fluorescent cellular and subcellular structures. Fluorescence in various tumor regions correlated with standard histology and known tissue architecture. Characteristic features of different areas of normal brain were identified as well.


Confocal endomicroscopy provided rapid histological information precisely related to the site of microscopic imaging with imaging characteristics of cells related to the unique labeling features of the fluorophores. Although experimental with further clinical trial validation required, these data suggest that intraoperative confocal imaging can help to distinguish normal brain from tumor and tumor margin and may have application in improving intraoperative decisions during resection of brain tumors.

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Ulises García-González, Daniel D. Cavalcanti, Abhishek Agrawal, L. Fernando Gonzalez, Robert C. Wallace, Robert F. Spetzler and Mark C. Preul


There are few systematic investigations of the dissected surgical anatomy of the diploic venous system (DVS) in the neuroanatomical literature. The authors describe the DVS relative to different common neurosurgical approaches. Knowledge of this system can help avoid potential sources of unacceptable bleeding and may impact healing of the cranium.


Using a high-speed drill with a 2-mm bit, the authors removed the outer layer of the compact bone in the skull to expose the DVS in 12 formalin-fixed cadaver heads. Pterional, supraorbital, and modified orbitozygomatic craniotomies were performed to delineate the relationship of the DVS.


The draining point of the frontal diploic vein (FDV) was located near the supraorbital notch. The draining point of the anterior temporal diploic vein (ATDV) was located in all pterional areas; the draining point of the posterior temporal diploic vein (PTDV) was located in all asterional areas. The PTDV was the dominant diploic vessel in all sides. The FDV and ATDV could be damaged during supraorbital, modified orbitozygomatic, and pterional craniotomies. The anterior DVS connected with the sphenoparietal and superior sagittal sinus (SSS). The posterior DVS connected with the transverse and sigmoid sinuses and was the dominant diploic vessel in all 24 sides. Of all the major diploic vessels, the location and pattern of distribution of the FDV were the most constant. The parietal bone contained the most diploic vessels. No diploic veins were found in the area delimited by the temporal squama.


The pterional, orbitozygomatic, and supraorbital approaches place the FDV and ATDV at risk. The major anterior diploic system connects the SSS with the sphenoparietal sinus. The posterior diploic system connects the SSS with the transverse and sigmoid sinuses.