Microsurgical and endoscopic anatomy of the vidian canal

Shigeyuki Osawa, Albert L Rhoton, Askin Seker, Satoru Shimizu, Kiyotaka Fujii, Amin B Kassam
Neurosurgery 2009, 64 (5 Suppl 2): 385-411; discussion 411-2

OBJECTIVE: The vidian canal, the conduit through the sphenoid bone for the vidian nerve and artery, has become an important landmark in surgical approaches to the cranial base. The objective of this study was to examine the anatomic features of the vidian canal, nerve, and artery, as well as the clinical implications of our findings.

METHODS: Ten adult cadaveric specimens and 10 dried skulls provided 40 vidian canals for examination with x 3 to x 20 magnification and the endoscope.

RESULTS: The paired vidian canals are located in the skull base along the line of fusion of the pterygoid process and body of the sphenoid bone. The canal opens anteriorly into the medial part of the pterygopalatine fossa and posteriorly at the upper part of the anterolateral edge of the foramen lacerum. The vidian nerve, when followed posteriorly, reaches the lateral surface of the anterior genu of the petrous carotid and the anteromedial part of the cavernous sinus where the nerve is continuous with the greater petrosal nerve. The bone surrounding the upper part of 12 of 20 vidian canals protruded into the floor of the sphenoid sinus and one canal had a bony dehiscence that exposed its contents under the sinus mucosa. Nine petrous carotid arteries (45%) gave rise to a vidian artery, all of which anastomosed with the vidian branch of the maxillary artery in the vidian canal or pterygopalatine fossa. The vidian canal can be exposed by opening the floor of the sphenoid sinus, the posterior wall of the maxillary, the posterior part of the lateral wall of the nasal cavity, and the medial part of the floor of the middle fossa.

CONCLUSION: The vidian canal and nerve are important landmarks in accessing the anterior genu of the petrous carotid, anteromedial part of the cavernous sinus, and petrous apex.

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