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Anatomical variation of superior petrosal vein and its management during surgery for cerebellopontine angle meningiomas

Anatomical variation of superior petrosal vein and its management during surgery for cerebellopontine angle meningiomas

Acta Neurochir (2013) 155:1871–187

No systematic study is yet available that focuses on the surgical anatomy of the superior petrosal vein and its significance during surgery for cerebellopontine angle meningiomas. The aim of the present study was to examine the variation of the superior petrosal vein via the retrosigmoid suboccipital approach in relation to the tumor attachment of cerebellopontine angle meningiomas as well as postoperative complications related to venous occlusion.

Forty-three patients with cerebellopontine angle meningiomas were analyzed retrospectively. Based on the operative findings, the tumors were classified into four subtypes: the petroclival type, tentorial type, anterior petrous type, and posterior petrous type. According to a previous anatomical report, the superior petrosal veins were divided into three groups: Type I which emptied into the superior petrosal sinus above and lateral to the internal acoustic meatus, Type II which emptied between the lateral limit of the trigeminal nerve at Meckel’s cave and the medial limit of the facial nerve at the internal acoustic meatus, and Type III which emptied into the superior petrosal sinus above and medial to Meckel’s cave.

In both the petroclival and anterior petrous types, the most common vein was Type III which is the ideal vein for a retrosigmoid approach. In contrast, the Type II vein which is at high risk of being sacrificed during a suprameatal approach procedure was most frequent in posterior petrous type, in which the superior petrosal vein was not largely an obstacle. Intraoperative sacrificing of veins was associated with a significantly higher rate of venous-related phenomena, while venous complications occurred even in cases where the superior petrosal vein was absent or compressed by the tumor.

The variation in the superior petrosal vein appeared to differ among the tumor attachment subtypes, which could permit a satisfactory surgical exposure without dividing the superior petrosal vein. In cases where the superior petrosal vein was previously occluded, other bridging veins could correspond with implications for the crucial venous drainage system, and should thus be identified and protected whenever possible.

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