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Carlo Brembilla, Luigi Andrea Lanterna, Emanuele Costi and Claudio Bernucci

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Carlo Brembilla, Luigi Andrea Lanterna, Virginio Bonito, Margherita Gardinetti, Gianluigi Dorelli, Angela Dele Rampini, Paolo Gritti and Claudio Bernucci

Superficial siderosis of the central nervous system (SSCNS) is an uncommon and often unrecognized disorder that results from recurrent and persistent bleeding into the subarachnoid space. Currently, there is no effective treatment for SSCNS. The identification and surgical resolution of the cause of bleeding remains the most reliable method of treatment, but the cause of bleeding is often not apparent. The identified sources of recurrent bleeding have typically included neoplasms, vascular malformations, brachial plexus or nerve root injury or avulsion, and previous head and spinal surgery. An association between recurrent bleeding in the CNS and dural abnormalities in the spine has recently been suggested. Dural tears have been identified in relation to a protruding disc or osteophyte. Also in these patients, the exact mechanism of bleeding remains unknown because of a lack of objective surgical data, even in patients who undergo neurosurgical procedures.

The present case concerns a 48-year-old man who presented with longstanding symptoms of mild hearing loss and mild gait ataxia. A diagnosis of SSCNS was made in light of the patient’s history and the findings on physical examination, imaging, and laboratory testing. MRI and CT detected a small calcific osteophyte in the anterior epidural space of T8–9. The patient underwent surgical removal of the bone spur and dural tear repair. During the surgery, the authors detected a perforating artery, which was on the osteophyte, that was bleeding into the subarachnoid space. This case shows a possible mechanism of chronic bleeding from an osteophyte into the subarachnoid space. In the literature currently available, a perforating artery on an osteophyte bleeding into the subarachnoid space has never been described in SSCNS.

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Federica Beretta, Norberto Andaluz, Chiraz Chalaala, Claudio Bernucci, Leo Salud and Mario Zuccarello


Minimally invasive approaches have been proposed for the treatment of anterior cranial base pathology. Whereas earlier studies have quantified surgical exposure by referring to the opening on the surface, this cadaveric morphometric study redefines the concept of working area by examining the deep exposures afforded by several different approaches. Specifically, the authors systematically quantify and compare the operative exposure afforded by the pterional, supraorbital, and transorbital keyhole approaches to the sellar, suprasellar, and perisellar regions, including the anterior communicating artery complex.


Pterional, supraorbital, and transorbital approaches were sequentially performed in 5 embalmed cadaveric heads on both sides. Preoperative and postoperative CT scans were obtained for frameless stereotactic navigation and measurements. Using reproducible anatomical landmarks, 6 triangles were defined to systematically measure the working area, depth of the surgical window, and angle of observation for each approach. Areas of the triangles were calculated using the Heron mathematical formula based on stereotactic navigation measurements. Ten sets of data were analyzed.


The pterional, supraorbital, and transorbital keyhole approaches provided progressively increasing working areas. The transorbital approach was associated with significantly increased exposure when compared with the pterional approach (p < 0.01). The transorbital approach was associated with a shallower depth of the surgical window when compared with either the supraorbital (p < 0.05) or pterional (p < 0.01) approach. The angle of basal view increased 56.6% with the transorbital approach (p < 0.001) when compared with the supraorbital approach. The transorbital route provided greater exposure on deeply located midline and contralateral structures.


In refining the concept of working area as deep rather than superficial in the surgical field, the authors quantified the 6 triangles whose boundaries were relative to the target structures to be exposed in the approach. The authors' morphometric findings support the use of the supraorbital and transorbital approaches as a valid alternative to the pterional approach for the treatment of sellar and perisellar pathology. The transorbital approach combines the advantages of minimal invasiveness with those of cranial base techniques.