J Neurosurg 136:1097–1102, 2022
The surgical management of large and complex tumors of the posterior fossa poses a formidable challenge in neurosurgery. The standard retrosigmoid craniotomy approach has been performed at most neurosurgical centers; however, the retrosigmoid approach may not provide enough working space without significant retraction of the cerebellum. The transsigmoid approach provides wider and shallower surgical fields; however, there have been few clinical and no cadaveric studies on its usefulness. In the present study, the authors describe the transsigmoid approach in clinical cases and cadaveric specimens.
METHODS For the clinical study, the authors retrospectively reviewed the medical records and operative charts of patients who had been surgically treated for parabrainstem tumors using the transsigmoid approach between 1997 and 2019. They analyzed patient demographic and clinical data, as well as surgical and clinical outcomes. In the cadaveric study, they compared the surgical views obtained in different approaches (retrosigmoid, presigmoid, retrolabyrinthine, and transsigmoid) and measured the sigmoid sinus width at the level of the endolymphatic sac and the distance between the anterior edge of the sigmoid sinus and the endolymphatic sac on 35 sides in 19 cadaveric specimens.
RESULTS A total of 21 patients (6 males and 15 females) with a mean age of 42.2 (range 15–67) years were included in the clinical study. Eleven patients had meningioma, 7 had vestibular schwannoma, 2 had hemangioblastoma, and 1 had epidermoid cyst. Gross-total, near-total, and subtotal removal were achieved in 7 (33.3%), 3 (14.3%), and 11 (52.4%) patients, respectively. In the cadaveric study, 19 cadaveric specimens were used. The sigmoid sinus was cut in the middle, and the incision was extended from the retrosigmoid to the presigmoid dura. The dura was then retracted upward and downward like opening a door. The results indicated that this technique can widen the operative field anteriorly by approximately 2 cm as compared to the retrosigmoid approach and provides a better view anterior to the brainstem.
CONCLUSIONS The transsigmoid approach is useful for complex parabrainstem tumors in the posterior fossa because it provides a wider and shallower operative view with less retraction of the cerebellum. This enables safer tumor removal with less damage to important structures in the posterior fossa, resulting in better operative and clinical outcomes.