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Wei-Hsin Wang, Stefan Lieber, Roger Neves Mathias, Xicai Sun, Paul A. Gardner, Carl H. Snyderman, Eric W. Wang, and Juan C. Fernandez-Miranda

OBJECTIVE

The foramen lacerum is a relevant skull base structure that has been neglected for many years. From the endoscopic endonasal perspective, the foramen lacerum is a key structure due to its location at the crossroad between the sagittal and coronal planes. The objective of this study was to provide a detailed investigation of the surgical anatomy of the foramen lacerum and its adjacent structures based on anatomical dissections and imaging studies, propose several relevant key surgical landmarks, and demonstrate the surgical technique for its full exposure with several illustrative cases.

METHODS

Ten colored silicone-injected anatomical specimens were dissected using a transpterygoid approach to the foramen lacerum region in a stepwise manner. Five similar specimens were used for a comparative transcranial approach. The osseous anatomy was examined in 32 high-resolution multislice CT studies and 1 disarticulated skull. Representative cases were selected to illustrate the application of the findings.

RESULTS

The pterygosphenoidal fissure is the synchondrosis between the lacerum process of the pterygoid bone and the floor of the sphenoid bone. It constantly converges with the posterior end of the vidian canal at a 45° angle, and its posterolateral end points directly to the lacerum foramen. The pterygoid tubercle separates the vidian canal from the pterygosphenoidal fissure, and forms the anterior wall of the lower part of the foramen lacerum. The lingual process, which forms the lateral wall of the foramen lacerum, was identified in 53 of 64 sides and featured an average height of 5 mm. The mandibular strut separates the foramen lacerum from the foramen ovale and had an average width of 5 mm.

CONCLUSIONS

This study provides relevant surgical landmarks and a systematic approach to the foramen lacerum by defining anterior, medial, lateral, and inferior walls that may facilitate its safe exposure for effective removal of lesions while minimizing the risk of injury to the internal carotid artery.

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Huy Q. Truong, Edinson Najera, Robert Zanabria-Ortiz, Emrah Celtikci, Xicai Sun, Hamid Borghei-Razavi, Paul A. Gardner, and Juan C. Fernandez-Miranda

OBJECTIVE

The endoscopic endonasal approach has become a routine corridor to the suprasellar region. The superior hypophyseal arteries (SHAs) are intimately related to lesions in the suprasellar space, such as craniopharyngiomas and meningiomas. Here the authors investigate the surgical anatomy and variations of the SHA from the endoscopic endonasal perspective.

METHODS

Thirty anatomical specimens with vascular injection were used for endoscopic endonasal dissection. The number of SHAs and their origin, course, branching, anastomoses, and areas of supply were collected and analyzed.

RESULTS

A total of 110 SHAs arising from 60 internal carotid arteries (ICAs), or 1.83 SHAs per ICA (range 0–3), were found. The most proximal SHA always ran in the preinfundibular space and provided the major blood supply to the infundibulum, optic chiasm, and proximal optic nerve; it was defined as the primary SHA (pSHA). The more distal SHA(s), present in 78.3% of sides, ran in the retroinfundibular space and supplied the stalk and may also supply the tuber cinereum and optic tracts. In the two sides (3.3%) in which no SHA was present, the territory was covered by a pair of infundibular arteries originating from the posterior communicating artery. Two-thirds of the pSHAs originated proximal to the distal dural ring; half of these arose from the carotid cave portion of the ICA, whereas the other half originated proximal to the cave. Four branching patterns of the pSHA were recognized, with the most common pattern (41.7%) consisting of three or more branches with a tree-like pattern. Descending branches were absent in 25% of cases. Preinfundibular anastomoses between pSHAs were found in all specimens. Anastomoses between the pSHA and the secondary SHA (sSHA) or the infundibular arteries were found in 75% cases.

CONCLUSIONS

The first SHA almost always supplies the infundibulum, optic chiasm, and proximal optic nerve and represents the pSHA. Compromising this artery can cause a visual deficit. Unilateral injury to the pSHA is less likely to cause an endocrine deficit given the artery’s abundant anastomoses. A detailed understanding of the surgical anatomy of the SHA and its many variations may help surgeons when approaching challenging lesions in the suprasellar region.