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Jacob D. Bond, Zhaoyang Xu and Ming Zhang

OBJECTIVE

The extradural neural axis compartment (EDNAC) is an adipovenous zone that is located between the meningeal (ML) and endosteal (EL) layers of the dura mater and has been minimally investigated in the jugular foramen (JF) region. In this study, the authors aimed to explore the fine architecture of the EDNAC within the JF and evaluate whether the EDNAC can be used as a component for JF compartmentalization.

METHODS

A total of 46 cadaveric heads (31 male, 15 female; age range 54–96 years) and 30 dry skulls were examined in this study. Twelve of 46 cadaveric heads were plastinated as a series of transverse (7 sets), coronal (3 sets), and sagittal (2 sets) slices and examined using stereomicroscopy and confocal microscopy. The dural entry points of the JF cranial nerves were recorded in 34 cadaveric skulls. The volumes of the JF, intraforaminal EDNAC, and internal jugular vein (IJV) were quantified.

RESULTS

Based on constant osseous landmarks, the JF was subdivided into preforaminal, intraforaminal, and subforaminal segments. The ML-derived fascial sheath along the anteromedial wall of the IJV demarcated the “venous portion” and the “EDNAC portion” of the bipartite JF. The EDNAC did not surround the intraforaminal IJV and comprised an ML-derived dural fibrous network and an adipose matrix. A fibrovenous curtain subdivided the intraforaminal EDNAC into a small anterior column containing cranial nerve (CN) IX and the anterior condylar venous plexus and a large posterior adipose column containing CNs X and XI. In the intraforaminal segment, the IJV occupied a slightly larger space in the foramen (57%; p < 0.01), whereas in the subforaminal segment it occupied a space of similar size to that of the EDNAC.

CONCLUSIONS

Excluding the IJV, the neurovascular structures in the JF traverse the dural fibrous network that is dominant in the foraminal EDNAC. The results of this study will contribute to anatomical knowledge of the obscure yet crucially important JF region, increase understanding of foraminal tumor growth and spread patterns, and facilitate the planning and execution of surgical interventions.

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Zhaoyang Xu, Guoxiong Lin, Han Zhang, Shengchun Xu and Ming Zhang

OBJECTIVE

Kambin’s triangle and the safe triangle are common posterolateral approaches for lumbar transforaminal endoscopic surgery and epidural injection. To date, no consensus has been reached on the optimal transforaminal approach, in particular its underlying anatomical mechanism. The aim of this study was to investigate the 3D architecture of the neurovascular and adipose zones in the upper and lower lumbar intervertebral foramina (IVFs).

METHODS

Using the epoxy sheet plastination technology, 22 cadaveric lumbar spines (12 female and 10 male, age range 46–89 years) were prepared as a series of transverse (11 sets), sagittal (8 sets), and coronal (3 sets) slices with a thickness of 0.25 mm (6 sets) or 2.5 mm (16 sets). The high-resolution images of the slices were scanned and analyzed. The height, area, and volume of 30 IVFs from T12–L1 to L4–5 were estimated and compared. This study was performed in accord with the authors’ institutional ethical guidelines and approved by the institutional ethics committees.

RESULTS

The findings were as follows. 1) The 3D boundaries of the lumbar IVF and its subdivisions were precisely defined. 2) The 3D configuration of the neurovascular and adipose zones was different between the upper and lower lumbar IVFs; zoning in the upper lumbar IVFs was much more complex than that in the lower lumbar IVFs. 3) In general, the infraneural adipose zone gradually tapered and rotated from the inferoposterolateral aspect to the superoanteromedial aspect. 4) The average height, area, and volume of the IVF gradually increased from the upper to the lower lumbar spine. Within a lumbar IVF, the volumes below and above the inferior border of the dorsal root ganglia were similar.

CONCLUSIONS

This study highlights differences of fine 3D architecture of neurovascular and adipose tissues between the upper and lower lumbar IVFs, with related effects on the transforaminal approaches. The findings may contribute to optimization of the surgical approaches to and through the IVF at different lumbar spinal levels and also may help to shorten the learning curve for the transforminal techniques.

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Zhaoyang Xu, Lili Tu, Yanyan Zheng, Xiaohui Ma, Han Zhang and Ming Zhang

OBJECTIVE

Meralgia paresthetica is commonly caused by mechanical entrapment of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve (LFCN). The entrapment often occurs at the site where the nerve exits the pelvis. Its optimal surgical management remains to be established, partly because the fine architecture of the fascial planes around the LFCN has not been elucidated. The aim of this study was to define the fascial configuration around the LFCN at its pelvic exit.

METHODS

Thirty-six cadavers (18 female, 18 male; age range 38–97 years) were used for dissection (57 sides of 30 cadavers) and sheet plastination and confocal microscopy (2 transverse and 4 sagittal sets of slices from 6 cadavers). Thirty-four healthy volunteers (19 female, 15 male; age range 20–62 years) were examined with ultrasonography.

RESULTS

The LFCN exited the pelvis via a tendinous canal within the internal oblique–iliac fascia septum and then ran in an adipose compartment between the sartorius and iliolata ligaments inferior to the anterior superior iliac spine (ASIS). The iliolata ligaments newly defined and termed in this study were 2–3 curtain strip–like structures which attached to the ASIS superiorly, were interwoven with the fascia lata inferomedially, and continued laterally as skin ligaments anchoring to the skin. Between the sartorius and tensor fasciae latae, the LFCN ran in a longitudinal ligamental canal bordered by the iliolata ligaments.

CONCLUSIONS

This study demonstrated that 1) the pelvic exit of the LFCN is within the internal oblique aponeurosis and 2) the iliolata ligaments form the part of the fascia lata over the LFCN and upper sartorius. These results indicate that the internal oblique–iliac fascia septum and iliolata ligaments may make the LFCN susceptible to mechanical entrapment near the ASIS. To surgically decompress the LFCN, it may be necessary to incise the oblique aponeurosis and iliac fascia medial to the LFCN tendinous canal and to free the iliolata ligaments from the ASIS.