Keyhole approaches, namely the minipterional approach (MPTa) and the supraorbital approach (SOa), are alternatives to the standard pterional approach to treat lesions located in the anterior and middle cranial fossae. Despite their increasing popularity and acceptance, the indications and limitations of these approaches require further assessment. The purpose of the present study was to determine the differences in the area of surgical exposure and surgical maneuverability provided by the MPTa and SOa.
The areas of surgical exposure afforded by the MPTa and SOa were analyzed in 12 sides of cadaver heads by using a microscope and a neuronavigation system. The area of exposure of the region of interest and surgical freedom (maneuverability) of each approach were calculated.
The area of exposure was significantly larger in the MPTa than in the SOa (1250 ± 223 mm2 vs 939 ± 139 mm2, p = 0.002). The MPTa provided larger areas of exposure in the ipsilateral and midline compartments, whereas there was no significant difference in the area of exposure in the contralateral compartment. All targets in the anterior circulation had significantly larger areas of surgical freedom when treated via the MPTa versus the SOa.
The MPTa provides greater surgical exposure and better maneuverability than that offered by the SOa. The SOa may be advantageous as a direct corridor for treating lesions located in the contralateral side or in the anterior cranial fossa, but the surgical exposure provided in the midline region is inferior to that exposed by the MPTa.