Anatomical step‑by‑step dissection of common approaches to the third ventricle for trainees

Acta Neurochirurgica (2023) 165:2421–2434

Purpose To create a high-quality, cadaver-based, operatively oriented resource documenting the anterior transcortical and interhemispheric transcallosal approaches as corridors to the third ventricle targeted towards neurosurgical trainees at all levels.

Methods Two formalin-fixed, latex-injected specimens were dissected under microscopic magnification and endoscopicassisted visualization. Dissections of the transcortical and transcallosal craniotomies with transforaminal, transchoroidal, and interforniceal transventricular approaches were performed. The dissections were documented in a stepwise fashion using three-dimensional photographic image acquisition techniques and supplemented with representative cases to highlight pertinent surgical principles.

Results The anterior transcortical and interhemispheric corridors afford excellent access to the anterior two-thirds of the third ventricle with varying risks associated with frontal lobe versus corpus callosum disruption, respectively. The transcortical approach offers a more direct, oblique view of the ipsilateral lateral ventricle, whereas the transcallosal approach readily establishes biventricular access through a paramedian corridor. Once inside the lateral ventricle, intraventricular angled endoscopy further enhances access to the extreme poles of the third ventricle from either open transcranial approach. Subsequent selection of either the transforaminal, transchoroidal, or interforniceal routes can be performed through either craniotomy and is ultimately dependent on individual deep venous anatomy, the epicenter of ventricular pathology, and the concomitant presence of hydrocephalus or embryologic cava. Key steps described include positioning and skin incision; scalp dissection; craniotomy flap elevation; durotomy; transcortical versus interhemispheric dissection with callosotomy; the aforementioned transventricular routes; and their relevant intraventricular landmarks.

Conclusions Approaches to the ventricular system for maximal safe resection of pediatric brain tumors are challenging to master yet represent foundational cranial surgical techniques. We present a comprehensive operatively oriented guide for neurosurgery residents that combines stepwise open and endoscopic cadaveric dissections with representative case studies to optimize familiarity with third ventricle approaches, mastery of relevant microsurgical anatomy, and preparation for operating room participation.