The brainstem is a compact, delicate structure. The surgeon must have good anatomical knowledge of the safe entry points to safely resect intrinsic lesions. Lesions located at the lateral midbrain surface are better approached through the lateral mesencephalic sulcus (LMS). The goal of this study was to compare the surgical exposure to the LMS provided by the subtemporal (ST) approach and the paramedian and extreme-lateral variants of the supracerebellar infratentorial (SCIT) approach.
These 3 approaches were used in 10 cadaveric heads. The authors performed measurements of predetermined points by using a neuronavigation system. Areas of microsurgical exposure and angles of the approaches were determined. Statistical analysis was performed to identify significant differences in the respective exposures.
The surgical exposure was similar for the different approaches—369.8 ± 70.1 mm2 for the ST; 341.2 ± 71.2 mm2 for the SCIT paramedian variant; and 312.0 ± 79.3 mm2 for the SCIT extreme-lateral variant (p = 0.13). However, the vertical angular exposure was 16.3° ± 3.6° for the ST, 19.4° ± 3.4° for the SCIT paramedian variant, and 25.1° ± 3.3° for the SCIT extreme-lateral variant craniotomy (p < 0.001). The horizontal angular exposure was 45.2° ± 6.3° for the ST, 35.6° ± 2.9° for the SCIT paramedian variant, and 45.5° ± 6.6° for the SCIT extreme-lateral variant opening, presenting no difference between the ST and extreme-lateral variant (p = 0.92), but both were superior to the paramedian variant (p < 0.001). Data are expressed as the mean ± SD.
The extreme-lateral SCIT approach had the smaller area of surgical exposure; however, these differences were not statistically significant. The extreme-lateral SCIT approach presented a wider vertical and horizontal angle to the LMS compared to the other craniotomies. Also, it provides a 90° trajectory to the sulcus that facilitates the intraoperative microsurgical technique.