In patients with bilateral supratentorial aneurysms, surgical clipping of all aneurysms via a unilateral approach would obviate the need for a second operation. The authors conducted a microsurgical study in human cadaver heads to examine the contralateral exposure for four common aneurysm sites in the anterior circulation: the ophthalmic artery (OA) origin, the posterior communicating artery (PCoA) origin, the internal carotid artery (ICA) termination, and the middle cerebral artery (MCA) bifurcation. Frontotemporal craniotomies were performed in 16 cadavers to evaluate the corridor for exposure of these sites from the contralateral side. Morphometric data, including lengths and diameters of major arterial segments and optic nerves, were documented for anatomical correlation.
In this study, the contralateral OA origin was successfully exposed in 62% of specimens, the PCoA origin in 50%, the ICA bifurcation in 100%, and the MCA bifurcation in 62%. Exposure of the OA origin and, in some cases, the PCoA, required incision of the falciform ligament and mobilization of the contralateral optic nerve. Exposure of the MCA bifurcation was dependent on the length of the M1 segment, with successful exposure only when this segment was shorter than 14 mm. Implications for the contralateral approach to aneurysms at these sites are discussed and the microsurgical corridors for exposure are described.
For correlation with the anatomical study, a brief clinical review of patients with bilateral supratentorial aneurysms treated at The Johns Hopkins Hospital between 1992 and 1995 is presented. Guidelines for the contralateral approach to aneurysms are discussed with reference to the anatomical study and the clinical review.