The expanded endoscopic endonasal approach (EEA) has shown promising results in treatment of midline skull base lesions. Several case reports exist on the utilization of the EEA for treatment of aneurysms. However, a comparison of this approach with the classic transcranial orbitozygomatic approach to the basilar apex (BAX) region is missing.
The present study summarizes the results of a series of cadaveric surgical simulations for assessment of the EEA to the BAX region for aneurysm clipping and its comparison with the transcranial orbitozygomatic approach as one of the most common approaches used to treat BAX aneurysms.
Fifteen cadaveric specimens underwent bilateral orbitozygomatic craniotomies as well as an EEA (first without a pituitary transposition [PT] and then with a PT) to expose the BAX. The following variables were measured, recorded, and compared between the orbitozygomatic approach and the EEA: 1) number of perforating arteries counted on bilateral posterior cerebral arteries (PCAs); 2) exposure and clipping lengths of the PCAs, superior cerebellar arteries (SCAs), and proximal basilar artery; and 3) surgical area of exposure in the BAX region.
Except for the proximal basilar artery exposure and clipping, the orbitozygomatic approach provided statistically significantly greater values for vascular exposure and control in the BAX region (i.e., exposure and clipping of ipsilateral and contralateral SCAs and PCAs). The EEA with PT was significantly better in exposing and clipping bilateral PCAs compared to EEA without a PT, but not in terms of other measured variables. The surgical area of exposure and PCA perforator counts were not significantly different between the 3 approaches. The EEA provided better exposure and control if the BAX was located ≥ 4 mm inferior to the dorsum sellae.
For BAX aneurysms located in the retrosellar area, PT is usually required to obtain improved exposure and control for the bilateral PCAs. However, the transcranial approach is generally superior to both endoscopic approaches for accessing the BAX region. Considering the superior exposure of the proximal basilar artery obtained with the EEA, it could be a viable option when surgical treatment is considered for a low-lying BAX or mid–basilar trunk aneurysms (≥ 4 mm inferior to dorsum sellae).