Trans-zygomatic middle cranial fossa approach to access lesions around the cavernous sinus and anterior parahippocampus: a minimally invasive skull base approach

Itay Melamed, R Shane Tubbs, Troy D Payner, Aaron A Cohen-Gadol
Acta Neurochirurgica 2009, 151 (8): 977-82; discussion 982

PURPOSE: Exposure of the cavernous sinus or anterior parahippocampus often involves a wide exposure of the temporal lobe and mobilization of the temporalis muscle associated with temporal lobe retraction. The authors present a cadaveric study to illustrate the feasibility, advantages and landmarks necessary to perform a trans-zygomatic middle fossa approach to lesions around the cavernous sinus and anterior parahippocampus.

METHODS: The authors performed bilateral trans-zygomatic middle fossae exposures to reach the cavernous sinus and parahippocampus in five cadavers (10 sides). We assessed the morbidity associated with this procedure and compared the indications, advantages, and disadvantages of this method versus more extensive skull base approaches. A vertical linear incision along the middle portion of the zygomatic arch was extended one finger breadth inferior to the inferior edge of the zygomatic arch. Careful dissection inferior to the arch allowed preservation of facial nerve branches. A zygomatic osteotomy was followed via a linear incision through the temporalis muscle and exposure of the middle cranial fossa floor.

RESULTS: A craniotomy along the inferolateral temporal bone and middle fossa floor allowed extradural dissection along the middle fossa floor and exposure of the cavernous sinus including all three divisions of the trigeminal nerve. Intradural inspection demonstrated adequate exposure of the parahippocampus. Exposure of the latter required minimal or no retraction of the temporal lobe.

CONCLUSIONS: The trans-zygomatic middle fossa approach is a simplified skull base exposure using a linear incision, which may avoid the invasivity of more extensive skull base approaches while providing an adequate corridor for resection of cavernous sinus and parahippocampus lesions. The advantages of this approach include its efficiency, ease, minimalism, preservation of the temporalis muscle, and minimal retraction of the temporal lobe.

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