The goal of this study was to delimit the external cranial projection of the transverse and sigmoid sinuses, and to establish initial strategic systematized burr hole sites for lateral infratentorial suboccipital approaches based on external cranial landmarks particularly related to the lambdoid, occipitomastoid, and parietomastoid sutures.
The external cranial projection of the transverse and sigmoid sinuses was studied through their external outlining obtained with the aid of multiple small perforations made from inside to outside along the inner margins of the sinuses of 50 paired temporoparietooccipital regions in 25 dried adult human skulls. The burr hole placement was studied by evaluating the supratentorial, over-the-sinuses, and infratentorial components of 1-cm-diameter openings made at strategic sites identified in the initial part of the study, which was performed in another 50 paired temporoparietooccipital regions.
The asterion and the midpoint of the inion–asterion line were found to be particularly related to the inferior half of the transverse sinus; the transverse and sigmoid sinuses' transition occurs 1 cm anteriorly to the asterion across the parietomastoid suture, and the most superior part of the sigmoid sinus is located anteriorly to the occipitomastoid suture, with its posterior margin crossing this suture posteriorly to the most superior aspect of the mastoid process, which is located at the most superior level of the mastoid notch. Burr holes made at the midpoint of the inion–asterion line, at the asterion, 1 cm anterior to the asterion, just inferiorly to the parietomastoid suture, and over the occipitomastoid suture at the most superior level of the mastoid notch are appropriate to expose the inferior half of the transverse sinus at its midpoint, the inferior half of the transverse sinus at its most lateral aspect, the transverse and sigmoid sinuses' transition, and the posterior margin of the basal aspect of the sigmoid sinus, respectively.
These findings allow an estimation of the transverse and sigmoid sinuses' external cranial projection. The asterion and the most posterior part of the parietomastoid suture constitute a suitable initial burr hole site at which to perform an upper or asterional suboccipital craniectomy to expose the superior aspect of the cerebellopontine angle (CPA). The occipitomastoid suture at the most superior aspect of the mastoid notch constitutes an adequate initial burr hole site at which to perform a basal suboccipital craniectomy to expose the lower portion of the CPA. The sites can be used together as initial burr hole sites to perform wide suboccipital exposures, because they already constitute natural infratentorial lateral limits.