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Wolfgang J. Weninger and Gerd B. Mülle

Object

In this study the authors analyze the peculiarities of the parasellar anatomy and the topography of surgical approaches to the parasellar region (PSR) in human infants.

Methods

Forty-nine specimens of the PSR obtained at autopsy were studied using microdissection and histological analysis. Important distances between anatomical landmarks were measured with the aid of a dissecting microscope. One serially sectioned specimen was three-dimensionally reconstructed and analyzed on the computer screen by using the authors' new episcopic reconstruction technique.

The anatomy of the infant PSR differs distinctly from that of the adult. The parasellar portion of the internal carotid artery (ICA) does not form a siphon, but takes a straight course, and the venous pathways as well as the cranial and sympathetic nerves have different topographical relationships. Analyses of surgical approaches demonstrate that, in young children, the anterolateral approach can be used to reach the pterygopalatine compartment, the superior ophthalmic vein, and those pathological processes that extend from the orbit into the PSR. The approach via Parkinson's triangle can be used in 45% of cases to access the pathological processes that occur in the voluminous space above and behind the posterior flexure of the parasellar ICA. Taking this route, sympathetic nerve fibers passing through the PSR are not at risk, but some arterial branches that run within the lateral wall of the sinus can complicate this approach.

Conclusions

This study presents a guideline that can assist radiologists and neurosurgeons in the planning and performance of interventions within the PSR of neonates and young children.