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Huy Q. Truong, Stefan Lieber, Edinson Najera, Joao T. Alves-Belo, Paul A. Gardner, and Juan C. Fernandez-Miranda

OBJECTIVE

The medial wall of the cavernous sinus (CS) is often invaded by pituitary adenomas. Surgical mobilization and/or removal of the medial wall remains a challenge.

METHODS

Endoscopic endonasal dissection was performed in 20 human cadaver heads. The configuration of the medial wall, its relationship to the internal carotid artery (ICA), and the ligamentous connections in between them were investigated in 40 CSs.

RESULTS

The medial wall of the CS was confirmed to be an intact single layer of dura that is distinct from the capsule of the pituitary gland and the periosteal layer that forms the anterior wall of the CS. In 32.5% of hemispheres, the medial wall was indented by and/or well adhered to the cavernous ICA. The authors identified multiple ligamentous fibers that anchored the medial wall to other walls of the CS and/or to specific ICA segments. These parasellar ligaments were classified into 4 groups: 1) caroticoclinoid ligament, spanning from the medial wall and the middle clinoid toward the clinoid ICA segment and anterior clinoid process; 2) superior parasellar ligament, connecting the medial wall to the horizontal cavernous ICA and/or lateral wall of the CS; 3) inferior parasellar ligament, bridging the medial wall to the anterior wall of the CS or anterior surface of the short vertical segment of the cavernous ICA; and 4) posterior parasellar ligament, which anchors the medial wall to the short vertical segment of the cavernous ICA and/or the posterior carotid sulcus. The caroticoclinoid ligament and inferior parasellar ligament were present in most CSs (97.7% and 95%, respectively), while the superior and posterior parasellar ligaments were identified in approximately half of the CSs (57.5% and 45%, respectively). The caroticoclinoid ligament was the strongest and largest ligament, and it was typically assembled as a group of ligaments with a fan-like arrangement. The inferior parasellar ligament was the first to be encountered after opening the anterior wall of the CS during an interdural transcavernous approach.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors introduce a classification of the parasellar ligaments and their role in anchoring the medial wall of the CS. These ligaments should be identified and transected to safely mobilize the medial wall away from the cavernous ICA during a transcavernous approach and for safe and complete resection of adenomas that selectively invade the medial wall.

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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.