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Extradural Temporopolar Approach To Lesions Of The Upper Basilar Artery And Infrachiasmatic Region

J. Diaz Day, Steven L. Giannotta, Takanori Fukushima

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✓ Surgical access to the parasellar, infrachiasmatic, and posterior clinoid regions has traditionally been accomplished through an intradural pterional or subtemporal approach. However, for large or complex lesions in these locations, such traditional trajectories may not afford sufficient exposure for complete obliteration of the pathological process. The authors describe an anterolateral transcavernous approach to this region that includes the following components: 1) extradural removal of the sphenoid wing and exposure of the superior orbital fissure and foramen rotundum; 2) removal of the anterior clinoid process via the anterolateral route; 3) decompression of the optic canal; 4) extradural retraction of the temporal tip; 5) transcavernous mobilization of the carotid artery and third cranial nerve; and 6) removal of the posterior clinoid process. This method results in enhanced exposure with minimal brain retraction and preservation of the temporal tip bridging veins. This approach has been used in 22 patients: 10 with basilar top aneurysms, eight with craniopharyngiomas, one with a tuberculum sellae meningioma, and two with trigeminal neuromas; the last patient had a carotidcavernous fistula and a concomitant pituitary adenoma. Complete clip ligation was performed for all 10 basilar artery aneurysms, and gross total resection was achieved with preservation of the pituitary stalk in all tumor cases. Microscopic total resection was not possible in two cases of craniopharyngioma due to hypothalamic invasion. Two patients suffered transient postoperative hemiparesis, and one patient has persisting weakness; however, no patient followed for more than 6 months suffered any persistent cranial nerve morbidity. It is concluded that this procedure can serve as an alternative to either the transsylvian or subtemporal approaches when cranial base pathologies are large or complex.