Morphometric Study of the Posterior Fossa: Identification of Practical Parameters for Tailored Selection of Surgical Routes to the Petroclival Region

J Neurol Surg B Skull Base 2022;83:37–43

The petroclival region is an integral part of the skull base. It can harbor different pathologies and provides access to the petroclival junction and cerebellopontine angle. We present the results of the morphometric analysis of the posterior fossa and a prediction model to enable skull base surgeons to choose an optimal surgical corridor considering patient’s bony anatomy.

Methods Ninety patients (14 to assess interobserver reliability) with temporal bone computed tomography were selected. Exclusion criteria included patients <18 years of age, radiographic evidence of trauma, infection, or previous surgery. The images were analyzed using OsiriX MD (Bernex, Switzerland). We recorded clival length, vertical angle, and surface area, and petroclival angle, petrous apex, and translabyrinthine corridors volume.

Results The average age was 49.5 years (55%) for males. The mean clival length and surface areas were 44.2mm (standard deviation [SD]   4.1) and 8.1 cm2 (SD   1.3). The mean petrous apex and translabyrinthine corridors volumes were 2.2 cm3 (SD   0.6) and 10.1 cm3 (SD   3.7). The mean petroclival angle at the internal auditory canal (IAC) was 154.9 degrees (SD   9). The clival length correlated positively with clival surface area (rho   0.6, p <0.05), petrous apex volume (rho   0.3, p < 0.05), and translabyrinthine volume (rho   0.3, p < 0.05).

Conclusion The petroclival region is complex and with high variability of surgical significance. The use of preoperative measurements of the clival length and petroclival angle as part of surgical planning that could help the surgeon to choose an optimal surgical corridor by overcoming the anatomical variability elements.