Refining the Anatomy of Percutaneous Trigeminal Rhizotomy: A Cadaveric, Radiological, and Surgical Study

Operative Neurosurgery 24:341–349, 2023

Percutaneous trigeminal rhizotomy (PTR) is a widely used procedure for trigeminal neuralgia. However, comprehensive analyses that combine anatomic, radiological, and surgical considerations are rare.

OBJECTIVE: To present high-quality anatomic dissections and radiological studies that highlight the technical nuances of this procedure.

METHODS: Six silicon-injected postmortem heads underwent PTR. The surgical corridors were dissected, and the neurovascular relationships were studied. In addition, 20 dried human skulls and 50 computed tomography angiography and MRI scans were collected to study the anatomic relationships for a customized puncture corridor.

RESULTS: The PTR corridor was divided into 3 segments: the buccal segment (length, 34.76 ± 7.20 mm), the inferior temporal fossa segment (length, 42.06 ± 6.92 mm), and the Meckel cave segment (length, 24.75 ± 3.34 mm). The puncture sagittal (α) and axial (β) angles measured in this study were 38.32° ± 4.62° and 19.13° ± 2.82°, respectively. The precondylar reference line coincided with the foramen ovale in 75% of the computed tomography angiography scans, and the postcondylar line coincided with the carotid canal in 70% of the computed tomography angiography scans; these lines serve as the intraoperative landmarks for PTR. The ovale-carotid-pterygoid triangle, delineated by drawing a line from the foramen ovale to the carotid canal and the lateral pterygoid plate, is a distinguished landmark to use for avoiding neurovascular injury during fluoroscopy.

CONCLUSION: Knowledge of the anatomic and radiological features of PTR is essential for a successful surgery, and a customized technical flow is a safe and effective way to access the foramen ovale.