The interpeduncular cistern, including the retrochiasmatic area, is one of the most challenging regions to approach surgically. Various conventional approaches to this region have been described; however, only the endoscopic endonasal approach via the dorsum sellae and the transpetrosal approach provide ideal exposure with a caudal-cranial view. The authors compared these 2 approaches to clarify their limitations and intrinsic advantages for access to the interpeduncular cistern
Four fresh cadaver heads were studied. An endoscopic endonasal approach via the dorsum sellae with pituitary transposition was performed to expose the interpeduncular cistern. A transpetrosal approach was performed bilaterally, combining a retrolabyrinthine presigmoid and a subtemporal transtentorium approach. Water balloons were used to simulate space-occupying lesions. “Water balloon tumors” (WBTs), inflated to 2 different volumes (0.5 and 1.0 ml), were placed in the interpeduncular cistern to compare visualization using the 2 approaches. The distances between cranial nerve (CN) III and the posterior communicating artery (PCoA) and between CN III and the edge of the tentorium were measured through a transpetrosal approach to determine the width of surgical corridors using 0- to 6-ml WBTs in the interpeduncular cistern (n = 8).
Both approaches provided adequate exposure of the interpeduncular cistern. The endoscopic endonasal approach yielded a good visualization of both CN III and the PCoA when a WBT was in the interpeduncular cistern. Visualization of the contralateral anatomical structures was impaired in the transpetrosal approach. The surgical corridor to the interpeduncular cistern via the transpetrosal approach was narrow when the WBT volume was small, but its width increased as the WBT volume increased. There was a statistically significant increase in the maximum distance between CN III and the PCoA (p = 0.047) and between CN III and the tentorium (p = 0.029) when the WBT volume was 6 ml.
Both approaches are valid surgical options for retrochiasmatic lesions such as craniopharyngiomas. The endoscopic endonasal approach via the dorsum sellae provides a direct and wide exposure of the interpeduncular cistern with negligible neurovascular manipulation. The transpetrosal approach also allows direct access to the interpeduncular cistern without pituitary manipulation; however, the surgical corridor is narrow due to the surrounding neurovascular structures and affords poor contralateral visibility. Conversely, in the presence of large or giant tumors in the interpeduncular cistern, which widen the spaces between neurovascular structures, the transpetrosal approach becomes a superior route, whereas the endoscopic endonasal approach may provide limited freedom of movement in the lateral extension.