Surgical Anatomy of the Eustachian Tube for Endoscopic Transnasal Skull Base Surgery: A Cadaveric and Radiologic Study

Noritaka Komune, Satoshi Matsuo, Koichi Miki, Yojiro Akagi, Ryota Kurogi, Koji Iihara, Takashi Nakagawa
World Neurosurgery 2018, 112: e172-e181

OBJECTIVE: The endoscopic endonasal approach to the anatomically complex lateral skull base presents technical challenges. The use of the eustachian tube as a landmark to identify the petrous internal carotid artery has recently been reported, and this study aims to define the anatomic relationship between the eustachian tube and its surrounding structures using cadaveric dissection and radiologic analysis.

METHODS: To clarify the relationship of the eustachian tube with its surrounding structures, we performed endoscopic and microscopic dissection of 4 adult cadaveric heads and analyzed computed topography scans from 20 patients.

RESULTS: The eustachian tube is divided into the osseous and cartilaginous parts. The cartilaginous part can be further subdivided into the posterolateral, middle, and anteromedial parts, based on its relationship to the skull base. The eustachian tube is closely related to the pterygoid process of the sphenoid bone, the foramen lacerum, and the petrosal apex and is directed away from the oblique sagittal plane almost parallel to the vidian canal at 12.2° ± 6.2° (mean ± standard deviation). The relationship between the course of the vidian canal and the eustachian tube can aid the estimation of the anatomic course of the horizontal segment of the petrous carotid artery.

CONCLUSIONS: The eustachian tube is a useful landmark for predicting the course of the internal carotid artery when accessing the lateral skull base regions via an endonasal route. A profound understanding of the relationship between the eustachian tube and the surrounding skull base structures is important for endoscopic endonasal skull base surgeries.

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