The infratemporal fossa (ITF) and parapharyngeal space are anatomical regions that can be challenging to access without the use of complex, cosmetically disfiguring approaches. With advances in endoscopic techniques, a new group of surgical approaches to access the intracranial space through the orbit has been recently referred to as transorbital neuroendoscopic surgery (TONES). The objective of this study was to establish a transorbital endoscopic approach utilizing the inferior orbital fissure (IOF) to gain access to the ITF and parapharyngeal space and provide a detailed endoscopic anatomical description of this approach.
Four cadaveric heads (8 sides) were dissected using a TONES approach through the IOF to reach the ITF and parapharyngeal space, providing stepwise dissection with detailed anatomical findings and a description of each step.
An inferior eyelid approach was made with subperiosteal periorbital dissection to the IOF. The zygomatic and greater wing of the sphenoid were drilled, forming the boundaries of the IOF. The upper head of the lateral pterygoid muscle in the ITF and parapharyngeal space was removed, and 7 distinct planes were described, each with its own anatomical contents. The second part of the maxillary artery was mainly found in plane 1 between the temporalis laterally and the lateral pterygoid muscle in plane 2. The branches of the mandibular nerve (V3) and middle meningeal artery (MMA) were identified in plane 3. Plane 4 was formed by the fascia of the medial pterygoid muscle (MTM) and the tensor veli palatini muscle. The prestyloid segment, found in plane 5, was composed mainly of fat and lymph nodes. The parapharyngeal carotid artery in the poststyloid segment, found in plane 7, was identified after laterally dissecting the styloid diaphragm, found in plane 6. V3 and the origin of the levator and tensor veli palatini muscles serve as landmarks for identification of the parapharyngeal carotid artery.
The transorbital endoscopic approach provides excellent access to the ITF and parapharyngeal space compared to previously described complex and morbid transfacial or transcranial approaches. Using the IOF is an important and useful landmark that permits a wide exposure.