Microsurgical anatomy of the temporal stem: clinical relevance and correlations with diffusion tensor imaging fiber tracking

J Neurosurg 112:1033–1038, 2010. (DOI: 10.3171/2009.6.JNS08132)

The authors used a fiber dissection technique to describe the temporal stem and explain the tendency of malignant tumors to spread within both the frontal and temporal lobes. The authors focused on the morphological characteristics and course of various fasciculi of the temporal stem, including the uncinate fascicle, occipitofrontal fascicle, anterior commissure, loop of the optic radiations (Meyer loop), and the ansa peduncularis.

Methods. Eight previously frozen, formalin-fixed human brains were dissected under an operating microscope using the fiber dissection technique described by Klingler. Lateral, inferior, and medial approaches were made. Crosssectional 3D MR images obtained in 10 patients without brain lesions demonstrated that fibers of the temporal stem, which were intermingled together in various ways, curved laterally within the basal forebrain. Various pathological entities affecting the temporal stem are described and discussed.

Results. The uncinate fascicle has 3 portions: a ventral extension, an intermediary segment called the isthmus, and a dorsal segment. The inferior occipitofrontal fasciculus is a layer of more superficial white matter that appeared to be superior to the uncinate fasciculus. A short ventral portion of the radiations of the corpus callosum was sometimes noted to run ventrally to enter the temporal stem and to reach both temporal lobes.

Conclusions. To the authors’ knowledge, a detailed anatomy of the temporal stem has not been previously described in the literature. The unique anatomy of the temporal stem provides a route for tumor spread between the frontal and temporal lobes.