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Ariel Kaen, Eugenio Cárdenas Ruiz-Valdepeñas, Alberto Di Somma, Francisco Esteban, Javier Márquez Rivas, and Jesús Ambrosiani Fernandez

OBJECTIVE

The endoscopic endonasal transpterygoid route has been widely evaluated in cadavers, and it is currently used during surgery for specific diseases involving the lateral skull base. Identification of the petrous segment of the internal carotid artery (ICA) is a key step during this approach, and the vidian nerve (VN) has been described as a principal landmark for safe endonasal localization of the petrous ICA at the level of the foramen lacerum. However, the relationship of the VN to the ICA at this level is complex as well as variable and has not been described in the pertinent literature. Accordingly, the authors undertook this purely anatomical study to detail and quantify the peri-lacerum anatomy as seen via an endoscopic endonasal transpterygoid pathway.

METHODS

Eight human anatomical specimens (16 sides) were dissected endonasally under direct endoscopic visualization. Anatomical landmarks of the VN and the posterior end of the vidian canal (VC) during the endoscopic endonasal transpterygoid approach were described, quantitative anatomical data were compiled, and a schematic classification of the most relevant structures encountered was proposed.

RESULTS

The endoscopic endonasal transpterygoid approach was used to describe the different anatomical structures surrounding the anterior genu of the petrous ICA. Five key anatomical structures were identified and described: the VN, the eustachian tube, the foramen lacerum, the petroclival fissure, and the pharyngobasilar fascia. These structures were specifically quantified and summarized in a schematic acronym—VELPPHA—to describe the area. The VELPPHA area is a dense fibrocartilaginous space around the inferior compartment of the foramen lacerum that can be reached by following the VC posteriorly; this area represents the posterior limits of the transpterygoid approach and, of utmost importance, no neurovascular structures were observed through the VELPPHA area in this study, indicating that it should be a safe zone for surgery in the posterior end of the endoscopic endonasal transpterygoid approach.

CONCLUSIONS

The VELPPHA area represents the posterior limits of the endoscopic endonasal transpterygoid approach. Early identification of this area can enhance the safety of the endoscopic endonasal transpterygoid approach expanded to the lateral aspect of the skull base, especially when treating patients with poorly pneumatized sphenoid sinuses.

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Alberto Di Somma, Norberto Andaluz, Luigi Maria Cavallo, Matteo de Notaris, Iacopo Dallan, Domenico Solari, Lee A. Zimmer, Jeffrey T. Keller, Mario Zuccarello, Alberto Prats-Galino, and Paolo Cappabianca

OBJECTIVE

Recent studies have proposed the superior eyelid endoscopic transorbital approach as a new minimally invasive route to access orbital lesions, mostly in otolaryngology and maxillofacial surgeries. The authors undertook this anatomical study in order to contribute a neurosurgical perspective, exploring the anterior and middle cranial fossa areas through this purely endoscopic transorbital trajectory.

METHODS

Anatomical dissections were performed in 10 human cadaveric heads (20 sides) using 0° and 30° endoscopes. A step-by-step description of the superior eyelid transorbital endoscopic route and surgically oriented classification are provided.

RESULTS

The authors’ cadaveric prosection of this approach defined 3 modular routes that could be combined. Two corridors using bone removal lateral to the superior and inferior orbital fissures exposed the middle and anterior cranial fossa (lateral orbital corridors to the anterior and middle cranial base) to unveil the temporal pole region, lateral wall of the cavernous sinus, middle cranial fossa floor, and frontobasal area (i.e., orbital and recti gyri of the frontal lobe). Combined, these 2 corridors exposed the lateral aspect of the lesser sphenoid wing with the Sylvian region (combined lateral orbital corridor to the anterior and middle cranial fossa, with lesser sphenoid wing removal). The medial corridor, with extension of bone removal medially to the superior and inferior orbital fissure, afforded exposure of the opticocarotid area (medial orbital corridor to the opticocarotid area).

CONCLUSIONS

Along with its minimally invasive nature, the superior eyelid transorbital approach allows good visualization and manipulation of anatomical structures mainly located in the anterior and middle cranial fossae (i.e., lateral to the superior and inferior orbital fissures). The visualization and management of the opticocarotid region medial to the superior orbital fissure are more complex. Further studies are needed to prove clinical applications of this relatively novel surgical pathway.