Three-dimensional microsurgical anatomy and the safe entry zones of the brainstem

Kaan Yagmurlu, Albert L Rhoton, Necmettin Tanriover, Jeffrey A Bennett
Neurosurgery 2014, 10 Suppl 4: 602-19; discussion 619-20

BACKGROUND: There have been no studies of the structure and safe surgical entry zones of the brainstem based on fiber dissection studies combined with 3-dimensional (3-D) photography.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the 3-D internal architecture and relationships of the proposed safe entry zones into the midbrain, pons, and medulla.

METHODS: Fifteen formalin and alcohol-fixed human brainstems were dissected by using fiber dissection techniques, ×6 to ×40 magnification, and 3-D photography to define the anatomy and the safe entry zones. The entry zones evaluated were the perioculomotor, lateral mesencephalic sulcus, and supra- and infracollicular areas in the midbrain; the peritrigeminal zone, supra- and infrafacial approaches, acoustic area, and median sulcus above the facial colliculus in the pons; and the anterolateral, postolivary, and dorsal medullary sulci in the medulla.

RESULTS: The safest approach for lesions located below the surface is usually the shortest and most direct route. Previous studies have often focused on surface structures. In this study, the deeper structures that may be at risk in each of the proposed safe entry zones plus the borders of each entry zone were defined. This study includes an examination of the relationships of the cerebellar peduncles, long tracts, intra-axial segments of the cranial nerves, and important nuclei of the brainstem to the proposed safe entry zones.

CONCLUSION: Fiber dissection technique in combination with the 3-D photography is a useful addition to the goal of making entry into the brainstem more accurate and safe.

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