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Corrado Iaccarino, Enrico Tedeschi, Armando Rapanà, Ilario Massarelli, Giuseppe Belfiore, Mario Quarantelli and Alfredo Bellotti


The aim of this study was to correlate intraoperative endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) findings in hydrocephalic patients with the MR imaging appearance of the mammillary bodies (MBs), the fundamental anatomical landmarks of the third ventricle floor (TVF) region.


The authors reviewed brain MR images and intraoperative ETV records in 23 patients with hydrocephalus as well as MR imaging data from 120 randomized control volunteers of various ages to define the normal intermammillary distance (IMD).


In control volunteers, no measurable IMD (“kissing” configuration) was observed in 91 (85%) of 107 cases, and there was mild MB splitting (mean ± standard deviation, 0.18 ± 0.12 cm) in only 16 cases with age-related cerebral atrophy. Among the 21 patients with complete MR imaging and ETV data sets, 12 ETV procedures were hindered by anatomical anomalies such as a thickened TVF or an “upward ballooning” phenomenon. On preoperative MR imaging in these 12 patients, there was an increased IMD (0.55 ± 0.41 cm) compared with that in the remaining 9 patients (0.27 ± 0.25 cm) who had a normal thin TVF during ETV and in the control group (0.03 ± 0.08 cm). Magnetic resonance imaging and ETV data concordantly displayed nonsplit MBs in 6 of 9 cases with a thin TVF and split MBs in 10 of 12 cases with a thick TVF.


The normal configuration of MBs is no measurable IMD, with mild splitting occurring in patients with age-related brain atrophy. In hydrocephalic patients, a thickened TVF was present almost exclusively with an increased IMD on preoperative MR imaging and separated MBs on endoscopic viewing. Large retrospective series are needed to confirm that a preoperative increased IMD is predictive of a thickened TVF during ETV.