The retrosigmoid (RS) approach is a classic route used to access deep-seated brainstem cavernous malformation (CM). The angle of access is limited, so alternatives such as the transpetrosal presigmoid retrolabyrinthine (TPPR) approach have been used to overcome this limitation. Here, the authors evaluated a modification to the RS approach, horizontal fissure dissection by using the RS transhorizontal (RSTH) approach.
Relevant clinical parameters were evaluated in 9 patients who underwent resection of lateral pontine CM. Cadaveric dissection was performed to compare the TPPR approach and the RSTH approach.
Five patients underwent the TPPR approach, and 4 underwent the RSTH approach. Dissection of the horizontal fissure allowed for access to the infratrigeminal safe entry zone, with a direct trajectory to the middle cerebellar peduncle similar to that used in TPPR exposure. Operative time was longer in the TPPR group. All patients had a modified Rankin Scale score ≤ 2 at the last follow-up. Cadaveric dissection confirmed increased anteroposterior working angle and middle cerebellar peduncle exposure with the addition of horizontal fissure dissection.
The RSTH approach leads to a direct lateral path to lateral pontine CM, with similar efficacy and shorter operative time compared with more extensive skull base exposure. The RSTH approach could be considered a valid alternative for resection of selected pontine CM.