The surgical approach to lesions involving the inferior petrous apex (IPA) is still challenging. The purpose of this study is to demonstrate the anatomical features of the IPA and to assess the applicability of an endoscopic endonasal approach through the foramen lacerum (translacerum approach) to the IPA.
The surgical simulation of the endoscopic endonasal translacerum approach was conducted in 3 cadaver heads. The same technique was applied in 4 patients harboring tumors involving the IPA (3 chordomas and 1 chondro-sarcoma).
By removing the fibrocartilaginous component of the foramen lacerum, a triangular space was created between the anterior genu of the petrous portion of the carotid artery and the eustachian tube, through which the IPA could be approached. The range of the surgical maneuver reached laterally up to the internal auditory canal, jugular foramen, and posterior vertical segment of the petrous portion of the carotid artery. In clinical application, the translacerum approach provided sufficient space to handle tumors at the IPA. Gross-total and partial removal was achieved in 3 and 1 cases, respectively, without permanent surgery-related morbidity and mortality.
The endoscopic endonasal translacerum approach provides reliable access to the IPA. It is indicated alone for lesions confined to the IPA and in combination with other approaches for more extensive lesions.