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The microneurosurgical anatomy legacy of Albert L. Rhoton Jr., MD: an analysis of transition and evolution over 50 years

Toshio Matsushima, Ken Matsushima, Shigeaki Kobayashi, J. Richard Lister, and Jacques J. Morcos

Dr. Albert L. Rhoton Jr. was a pioneer of the study of microneurosurgical anatomy. Championing this field over the past half century, he produced more than 500 publications. In this paper, the authors review his body of work, focusing on approximately 160 original articles authored by Rhoton and his microneuroanatomy fellows. The articles are categorized chronologically into 5 stages: 1) dawn of microneurosurgical anatomy, 2) study of basic anatomy for general neurosurgery, 3) study for skull base surgery, 4) study of the internal structures of the brain by fiber dissection, and 5) surgical anatomy dealing with new advanced surgical approaches. Rhoton introduced many new research ideas and surgical techniques and approaches, along with better microsurgery instruments, through studying and teaching microsurgical anatomy, especially during the first stage. The characteristic features of each stage are explained and the transition phases of his projects are reviewed.

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Microsurgical anatomy and approaches around the lateral recess with special reference to entry into the pons

Osamu Akiyama, Ken Matsushima, Maximiliano Nunez, Satoshi Matsuo, Akihide Kondo, Hajime Arai, Albert L. Rhoton Jr., and Toshio Matsushima


The lateral recess is a unique structure communicating between the ventricle and cistern, which is exposed when treating lesions involving the fourth ventricle and the brainstem with surgical approaches such as the transcerebellomedullary fissure approach. In this study, the authors examined the microsurgical anatomy around the lateral recess, including the fiber tracts, and analyzed their findings with respect to surgical exposure of the lateral recess and entry into the lower pons.


Ten cadaveric heads were examined with microsurgical techniques, and 2 heads were examined with fiber dissection to clarify the anatomy between the lateral recess and adjacent structures. The lateral and medial routes directed to the lateral recess in the transcerebellomedullary fissure approach were demonstrated. A morphometric study was conducted in the 10 cadaveric heads (20 sides).


The lateral recess was classified into medullary and cisternal segments. The medial and lateral routes in the transcerebellomedullary fissure approach provided access to approximately 140º–150º of the posteroinferior circumference of the lateral recess. The floccular peduncle ran rostral to the lateral recess, and this region was considered to be a potential safe entry zone to the lower pons. By appropriately selecting either route, medial-to-lateral or lateral-to-medial entry axis is possible, and combining both routes provided wide exposure of the lower pons around the lateral recess.


The medial and lateral routes of the transcerebellomedullary fissure approach provided wide exposure of the lateral recess, and incision around the floccular peduncle is a potential new safe entry zone to the lower pons.