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Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences 2023 Apr 27

DOI: 10.23736/S0390-5616.23.05955-6


language: English

A novel 3D anatomical visualization system to avoid injuries of nerves in retrosigmoid approach

Domenico LA TORRE 1 , Attilio DELLA TORRE 1, Antonino GERMANÒ 2, Dorotea PUGLIESE 1, Erica LO TURCO 2, Paola LACROCE 2, Alberto ROMANO 3, Angelo LAVANO 1, Francesco TOMASELLO 3

1 Mater Domini University Hospital, Magna Graecia University, Catanzaro, Italy; 2 G. Martino Polyclinic University Hospital, University of Messina, Messina, Italy; 3 Humanitas Clinical Institute of Catania, Misterbianco, Catania, Italy


The retro-sigmoid approach (RA), widely used during different neurosurgical procedures, is burdened by the risk of injuries of the nerves that cross that region contributing to possible postoperative complications. By using, anatomage table (AT), a novel 3D anatomical visualization system, we described the nerves passing through the retromastoid area including the great occipital nerve (GON), the lesser occipital nerve (LON) and the great auricular nerve (GAN), and their courses from the origins, till terminal branches. Moreover, using dedicated software, we measured distances between the nerves and well-recognizable bony landmarks. After identifying the nerves and their distances from bony landmarks, we observed that the safest and risk-free skin incision should be made in an area delimited, superiorly from the superior nuchal line (or slightly higher), and inferiorly from a plane passing at 1-1.5 cm above the mastoid tip. The lateral aspect of such an area should not exceed 9.5-10 cm from the inion, while the medial one should be more than 7 cm far from the inion. This anatomical information has been useful in defining anatomical landmarks and reducing the risk of complications, mainly related to nerve injury, in RA. In-depth neuroanatomic knowledge of the cutaneous nerves of the retromastoid area is essential to minimize the complications related to their injury during different neurosurgical approaches. Our findings suggest that the AT is a reliable tool to enhance understanding of the anatomy, and thus contributing to the refinement of surgical techniques.

KEY WORDS: Microvascular decompression surgery; Imaging, Cranial nerve injuries

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