Microvascular decompression for treatment of trigeminal neuralgia, hemifacial spasm, and glossopharyngeal neuralgia: three surgical approach variations: technical note

Tsutomu Hitotsumatsu, Toshio Matsushima, Tooru Inoue
Neurosurgery 2003, 53 (6): 1436-41; discussion 1442-3

OBJECTIVE: We have used three different approaches, namely, the infratentorial lateral supracerebellar approach, the lateral suboccipital infrafloccular approach, and the transcondylar fossa approach, for microvascular decompression for treatment of trigeminal neuralgia, hemifacial spasm, and glossopharyngeal neuralgia, respectively. Each approach is a variation of the lateral suboccipital approach to the cerebellopontine angle (CPA); however, each has a different site of bony opening, a different surgical direction, and a different route along the cerebellar surface.

METHODS: The infratentorial lateral supracerebellar approach is used to access the trigeminal nerve in the superior portion of the CPA through the lateral aspect of the cerebellar tentorial surface. The lateral suboccipital infrafloccular approach is directed through the inferior part of the cerebellar petrosal surface to reach the root exit zone of the facial nerve below the flocculus. The transcondylar fossa approach is used to access the glossopharyngeal nerve in the inferior portion of the CPA through the cerebellar suboccipital surface, after extradural removal of the jugular tubercle as necessary.

RESULTS: In all three approaches, the cerebellar petrosal surface is never retracted transversely, that is, the cerebellar retraction is never directed parallel to the longitudinal axis of the VIIIth cranial nerve, dramatically reducing the risk of postoperative hearing loss.

CONCLUSION: The greatest advantage of the differential selection of the surgical approach is increased ability to reach the destination in the CPA accurately, with minimal risk of postoperative cranial nerve palsy.

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