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Qing Sun, Xiaochun Zhao, Sirin Gandhi, Ali Tayebi Meybodi, Evgenii Belykh, Daniel Valli, Claudio Cavallo, Leandro Borba Moreira, Peter Nakaji, Michael T. Lawton and Mark C. Preul

OBJECTIVE

The cisternal pulvinar is a challenging location for neurosurgery. Four approaches for reaching the pulvinar without cortical transgression are the ipsilateral supracerebellar infratentorial (iSCIT), contralateral supracerebellar infratentorial (cSCIT), ipsilateral occipital transtentorial (iOCTT), and contralateral occipital transtentorial/falcine (cOCTF) approaches. This study quantitatively compared these approaches in terms of surgical exposure and maneuverability.

METHODS

Each of the 4 approaches was performed in 4 cadaveric heads (8 specimens in total). A 6-sided anatomical polygonal region was configured over the cisternal pulvinar, defined by 6 reachable anatomical points in different vectors. Multiple polygons were subsequently formed to calculate the areas of exposure. The surgical freedom of each approach was calculated as the maximum allowable working area at the proximal end of a probe, with the distal end fixed at the posterior pole of the pulvinar. Areas of exposure, surgical freedom, and the working distance (surgical depth) of all approaches were compared.

RESULTS

No significant difference was found among the 4 different approaches with regard to the surgical depth, surgical freedom, or medial exposure area of the pulvinar. In the pairwise comparison, the cSCIT approach provided a significantly larger lateral exposure (39 ± 9.8 mm2) than iSCIT (19 ± 10.3 mm2, p < 0.01), iOCTT (19 ± 8.2 mm2, p < 0.01), and cOCTF (28 ± 7.3 mm2, p = 0.02) approaches. The total exposure area with a cSCIT approach (75 ± 23.1 mm2) was significantly larger than with iOCTT (43 ± 16.4 mm2, p < 0.01) and iSCIT (40 ± 20.2 mm2, p = 0.01) approaches (pairwise, p ≤ 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS

The cSCIT approach is preferable among the 4 compared approaches, demonstrating better exposure to the cisternal pulvinar than ipsilateral approaches and a larger lateral exposure than the cOCTF approach. Both contralateral approaches described (cSCIT and cOCTF) provided enhanced lateral exposure to the pulvinar, while the cOCTF provided a larger exposure to the lateral portion of the pulvinar than the iOCTT. Medial exposure and maneuverability did not differ among the approaches. A short tentorium may negatively impact an ipsilateral approach because the cingulate isthmus and parahippocampal gyrus tend to protrude, in which case they can obstruct access to the cisternal pulvinar ipsilaterally.

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Ali Tayebi Meybodi, Sirin Gandhi, Mark C. Preul and Michael T. Lawton

OBJECTIVE

Exposure of the vertebral artery (VA) between C-1 and C-2 vertebrae (atlantoaxial VA) may be necessary in a variety of pathologies of the craniovertebral junction. Current methods to expose this segment of the VA entail sharp dissection of muscles close to the internal jugular vein and the spinal accessory nerve. The present study assesses the technique of exposing the atlantoaxial VA through a newly defined muscular triangle at the craniovertebral junction.

METHODS

Five cadaveric heads were prepared for surgical simulation in prone position, turned 30°–45° toward the side of exposure. The atlantoaxial VA was exposed through the subatlantic triangle after reflecting the sternocleidomastoid and splenius capitis muscles inferiorly. The subatlantic triangle was formed by 3 groups of muscles: 1) the levator scapulae and splenius cervicis muscles inferiorly and laterally, 2) the longissimus capitis muscle inferiorly and medially, and 3) the inferior oblique capitis superiorly. The lengths of the VA exposed through the triangle before and after unroofing the C-2 transverse foramen were measured.

RESULTS

The subatlantic triangle consistently provided access to the whole length of atlantoaxial VA. The average length of the VA exposed via the subatlantic triangle was 19.5 mm. This average increased to 31.5 mm after the VA was released at the C-2 transverse foramen.

CONCLUSIONS

The subatlantic triangle provides a simple and straightforward pathway to expose the atlantoaxial VA. The proposed method may be useful during posterior approaches to the craniovertebral junction should early exposure and control of the atlantoaxial VA become necessary.