Endoscopic approaches to the trigeminal nerve and clinical consideration for trigeminal schwannomas: a cadaveric study

Laboratory investigation

Fuminari Komatsu M.D., Ph.D., Mika Komatsu M.D., Antonio Di Ieva M.D., Ph.D., and Manfred Tschabitscher M.D., Ph.D.
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  • Center for Anatomy and Cell Biology, Department of Systematic Anatomy, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
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Object

The course of the trigeminal nerve straddles multiple fossae and is known to be very complex. Comprehensive anatomical knowledge and skull base techniques are required for surgical management of trigeminal schwannomas. The aims of this study were to become familiar with the endoscopic anatomy of the trigeminal nerve and to develop a minimally invasive surgical strategy for the treatment of trigeminal schwannomas.

Methods

Ten fresh cadavers were studied using 5 endoscopic approaches with the aid of 4-mm 0° and 30° endoscopes to identify surgical landmarks associated with the trigeminal nerve. The endoscopic approaches included 3 transcranial keyhole approaches (the extradural supraorbital, extradural subtemporal, and retrosigmoid approaches), and 2 endonasal approaches (the transpterygoid and the transmaxillary transpterygoid approaches).

Results

The trajectories of the extradural supraorbital, transpterygoid, and extradural subtemporal approaches corresponded with the course of the first, second, and third divisions of the trigeminal nerve, respectively. The 3 approaches demonstrated each division in intra- and extracranial spaces, as well as the Meckel cave in the middle cranial fossa. The interdural space at the lateral wall of the cavernous sinus was exposed by the extradural supraorbital and subtemporal approaches. The extradural subtemporal approach with anterior petrosectomy and the retrosigmoid approach visualized the trigeminal sensory root and its neighboring neurovascular structures in the posterior cranial fossa. The transmaxillary transpterygoid approach revealed the course of the third division in the infratemporal fossa.

Conclusions

The 5 endoscopic approaches effectively followed the course of the trigeminal nerve with minimal invasiveness. These approaches could provide alternative options for the management of trigeminal schwannoma.

Abbreviations used in this paper:

GSPN = greater superficial petrosal nerve; ICA= internal carotid artery.

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