Combined subtarsal contralateral transmaxillary retroeustachian and endoscopic endonasal approaches to the infrapetrous region

J Neurosurg 139:992–1001, 2023

The eustachian tube (ET) limits endoscopic endonasal access to the infrapetrous region. Transecting or mobilizing the ET may result in morbidities. This study presents a novel approach in which a subtarsal contralateral transmaxillary (ST-CTM) corridor is coupled with the standard endonasal approach to facilitate access behind the intact ET.

METHODS Eight cadaveric head specimens were dissected. Endoscopic endonasal approaches (EEAs) (i.e., transpterygoid and inferior transclival) were performed on one side, followed by ST-CTM and sublabial contralateral transmaxillary (SL-CTM) approaches on the opposite side, along with different ET mobilization techniques on the original side. Seven comparative groups were generated. The length of the cranial nerves, areas of exposure, and volume of surgical freedom (VSF) in the infrapetrous regions were measured and compared.

RESULTS Without ET mobilization, the combined ST-CTM/EEA approach provided greater exposure than EEA alone (mean ± SD 288.9 ± 40.66 mm 2 vs 91.7 ± 49.9 mm 2 ; p = 0.001). The VSFs at the ventral jugular foramen (JF), entrance to the petrous internal carotid artery (ICA), and lateral to the parapharyngeal ICA were also greater in ST-CTM/EEA than in EEA alone (p = 0.002, p = 0.002, and p < 0.001, respectively). EEA alone, however, provided greater VSF at the hypoglossal canal (HGC) than did ST-CTM/EEA (p = 0.01). The SL-CTM approach did not increase the EEA exposure (p = 0.48). The ST-CTM/EEA approach provided greater exposure than EEA with extended inferolateral (EIL) or anterolateral (AL) ET mobilization (p = 0.001 and p = 0.02, respectively). The ST-CTM/EEA also increased the VSF lateral to the parapharyngeal ICA in comparison with EEA/EIL ET mobilization (p < 0.001) but not with EEA/AL ET mobilization (p = 0.36). Finally, the VSFs at the HGC and JF were greater in EEA/AL ET mobilization than in ST-CTM/EEA without ET mobilization (p = 0.002 and p = 0.004, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS Combining the EEA with the more laterally and superiorly originating ST-CTM approach allows greater exposure of the infrapetrous and ventral JF regions while obviating the need for mobilizing the ET. The surgical freedom afforded by the combined approaches is greater than that obtained by EEA alone.