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Christophe Destrieux, Stéphane Velut, Médard K. Kakou, Thierry Lefrancq, Brigitte Arbeille and Jean-Jacques Santini

✓ The so-called Dorello's canal was studied in 32 specimens (16 human cadaver heads) injected with colored latex and fixed in formalin (28 specimens) or studied with microscopic and ultrastructural methods (four specimens). To avoid the differences usually encountered in the description of this area, the authors preferred to consider a larger space that they have named the petroclival venous confluence (PVC). It was located between two dural layers: inner (or cerebral) and outer (or osteoperiosteal). The PVC was quadrangular on transverse section. The posterior petroclinoid fold and the axial plane below the dural foramen of the abducent nerve (sixth cranial nerve) limited the PVC at the top and bottom, respectively. Its anteroinferior limit was the posterosuperior aspect of the upper clivus and outer layer of the dura mater. Its anterior limit was the vertical plane containing the posterior petroclinoid fold, and its posterior limit was the inner layer of the dura. The PVC was limited laterally by the medial aspect of the petrous bone apex and medially by the virtual sagittal plane extending the medial limit of the inferior petrosal sinus upward. The PVC was a venous space bordered by endothelium and continuous with the cavernous sinus, the basal sinus of the clivus, and the inferior petrosal sinus. There were trabeculations between the two dural layers. The petrosphenoidal ligament of Grüber may be regarded as a larger trabeculation, and it divided the PVC into a superior and an inferior compartment. The abducent nerve generally ran through the inferior compartment, where it was fixed to the surrounding dura mater. This nerve was only separated from venous blood by a meningeal sheath of varying thinness lined with endothelium. The clinical implications of these findings are discussed.

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Christophe Destrieux, Médard K. Kakou, Stéphane Velut, Thierry Lefrancq and Michel Jan

Object. The authors studied the heads of 17 adult cadavers and one fetus to clarify the anatomy of the sellar region, particularly the lateral boundaries of the hypophyseal fossa.

Methods. Vascular injections and microdissection or histological techniques were used in this study. The roof of the cavernous sinuses and diaphragma sellae were part of a single horizontal dural layer that joined the two anterior petroclinoid folds. Laterally, the direction of this layer changed; it became the lateral wall of the cavernous sinus and joined the dura mater of the middle cerebral fossa. On the midline, this layer ballooned toward the sella through the diaphragmatic foramina, created a dural bag containing the hypophysis, and attached to the inferior aspect of the diaphragma sellae. As a consequence, no straight sagittal dural wall existed between the pituitary gland and cavernous sinus; the lateral border of the hypophyseal fossa was part of this anteroposterior and superoinferior convex bag. The authors stress the importance of the venous elements of the region and discuss the structure of the cavernous and coronary sinuses.

Conclusions. Invasion of the cavernous sinus makes surgery more risky and difficult and may necessitate modification of the surgical treatment plan. The preoperative diagnosis of cavernous sinus invasion is thus of great interest, but the possibility of normal lateral expansions of the pituitary gland must be kept in mind. A lateral expansion of this gland into the cavernous sinus was encountered in 29% of the specimens, and an adenoma that developed in such an expansion could easily mimic cavernous sinus invasion.

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Médard Kakou, Christophe Destrieux and Stéphane Velut

Object. The pericallosal arterial complex supplies the callosal and pericallosal regions, as well as the anterior two thirds of the medial and superomedial aspects of both hemispheres. It is composed of the pericallosal artery (that is, the segment of the anterior cerebral artery located distal to the anterior communicating artery [ACoA]) and the median callosal artery (or third pericallosal artery), which originates from the ACoA. This system was studied in 46 specimens (23 human cadaver heads) injected with colored latex.

Methods. After being injected with colored latex, embalmed, and bleached, the specimens were studied with the aid of optic magnification.

The pericallosal artery was found to be divided into four segments (A2–A5 in the proximodistal direction). After giving rise to central, callosal, and cortical branches, it terminated near the splenium of the corpus callosum as the posterior pericallosal artery, or on the precuneus as the inferomedial parietal artery.

Conclusions. The authors propose a logical classification of the different variations in the pericallosal arterial complex based on embryological development. This complex can be considered a hemodynamic solution to an abnormal regression of one of its parts, which is balanced by the development of supplemental channels from other parts.

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M. Gazi Yaşargil

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Emmanuel Lescanne, Stéphane Velut, Thierry Lefrancq and Christophe Destrieux

Object. The authors studied the cadaveric heads of 22 adults to describe the internal acoustic meatus (IAM) and its contents. Special attention was paid to the length of the arachnoidal and dural sheaths surrounding the neural structures, including the vestibular ganglion. An additional goal of this study was to verify anatomically the concept of arachnoidal duplication, which is reputedly induced by medial growth of vestibular neuromas and helpful in atraumatic dissection.

Methods. Twelve cadaveric heads (24 IAMs) were injected with colored latex and fixed in formalin. Cautious removal of the skull vault and the brain or the skull base allowed superior and anteroinferior views of the IAM, respectively. Photographs were obtained after removal of the bone canal and dissection of the meninges with the aid of optic magnification. Ten IAMs were prepared for histological study and the osteological anatomy of the fundus was endoscopically described for the remaining 10.

The dura mater covered the bone structures of the IAM, and the arachnoidal membrane of the cerebellopontine cistern invaginated into this dural cul-de-sac as a “muff.” The entire neurovascular content of the IAM, including the vestibular ganglion, was surrounded by this arachnoidal sheath in which cerebrospinal fluid circulated. The length of this arachnoidal sheath was the same ventrally and dorsally and, in all specimens, the entrance of the cochleovestibulofacial complex into the subarachnoid space was located at the fundus level.

Conclusions. In this study the authors demonstrated the existence of an acousticofacial cistern containing every nerve of the vestibulocochleofacial complex, including the vestibular ganglion from which acoustic neuromas develop. These findings clearly contradict the theory of the duplication of arachnoidal layers during medial growth of vestibular neuromas and may explain some of the intraoperative difficulties encountered in the atraumatic dissection of these tumors.

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Johann Peltier, Nadine Travers, Christophe Destrieux and Stéphane Velut

Object

In this study, the authors used a fiber-dissection technique to describe the optic radiation. They focused on the morphological characteristics (length and breadth) of this structure, its course, and its relationships with neighboring fasciculi and the lateral ventricle.

Methods

The authors dissected 10 previously frozen, formalin-fixed human brains with the aid of an operating microscope by following the fiber dissection technique described by Klingler in 1960. Lateral, inferior, and medial approaches were made. The optic radiation, also known as the Gratiolet radiation, extended from the lateral geniculate body to the calcarine fissure. The average distance from the tip of the anterior Meyer loop to the calcarine sulcus was 105 mm (range 95–114 mm). The breadth of the optic radiations, one on each side of the brain, averaged 17 mm at the level of the inferior horn (range 15–18 mm). This tract could be divided into three main segments: the anterior or Meyer loop, the body, and the end of the optic radiation. Adjacent anatomical structures included: laterally, the inferior longitudinal fasciculi; medially, the tapetum of the corpus callosum; and the ependyma of the inferior horn of the lateral ventricle.

Conclusions

Various practical surgical approaches are discussed. The knowledge gained by studying this particular anatomy will help prevent injury to the optic radiations during neurosurgery.