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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.