There is no definitive or consensus classification system for the jugular bulb position that can be uniformly communicated between a radiologist, neurootologist, and neurosurgeon. A high-riding jugular bulb (HRJB) has been variably defined as a jugular bulb that rises to or above the level of the basal turn of the cochlea, within 2 mm of the internal auditory canal (IAC), or to the level of the superior tympanic annulus. Overall, there is a seeming lack of consensus, especially when MRI and/or CT are used for jugular bulb evaluation without a dedicated imaging study of the venous anatomy such as digital subtraction angiography or CT or MR venography.
A PubMed analysis of “jugular bulb” comprised of 1264 relevant articles were selected and analyzed specifically for an HRJB. A novel classification system based on preliminary skull base imaging using CT is proposed by the authors for conveying the anatomical location of the jugular bulb. This new classification includes the following types: type 1, no bulb; type 2, below the inferior margin of the posterior semicircular canal (SCC), subclassified as type 2a (without dehiscence into the middle ear) or type 2b (with dehiscence into the middle ear); type 3, between the inferior margin of the posterior SCC and the inferior margin of the IAC, subclassified as type 3a (without dehiscence into the middle ear) and type 3b (with dehiscence into the middle ear); type 4, above the inferior margin of the IAC, subclassified as type 4a (without dehiscence into the IAC) and type 4b (with dehiscence into the IAC); and type 5, combination of dehiscences. Appropriate CT and MR images of the skull base were selected to validate the criteria and further demonstrated using 3D reconstruction of DICOM files. The microsurgical significance of the proposed classification is evaluated with reference to specific skull base/posterior fossa pathologies.
The authors validated the role of a novel classification of jugular bulb location that can help effective communication between providers treating skull base lesions. Effective utilization of the above grading system can help plan surgical procedures and anticipate complications.
The authors have proposed a novel anatomical/radiological classification system for jugular bulb location with respect to surgical implications. This classification can help surgeons in complication avoidance and management when addressing HRJBs.