Anatomic Variations of Foramen Ovale as a Predictor of Successful Cannulation in Percutaneous Trigeminal Rhizotomies

Operative Neurosurgery 26:279–285, 2024

Percutaneous trigeminal rhizotomies are common treatment modalities for medically refractory trigeminal neuralgia (TN). Failure of these procedures is frequently due to surgical inability to cannulate the foramen ovale (FO) and is thought to be due to variations in anatomy. The purpose of this study is to characterize the relationships between anatomic features surrounding FO and investigate the association between anatomic morphology and successful cannulation of FO in patients undergoing percutaneous trigeminal rhizotomy.

METHODS: A retrospective analysis was conducted of all patients undergoing percutaneous trigeminal rhizotomy for TN at our academic center between January 1, 2010, and July 31, 2022. Preoperative 1-mm thin-cut computed tomography head imaging was accessed to perform measurements surrounding the FO, including inlet width, outlet width, interforaminal distance (a representation of the lateral extent of FO along the middle fossa), and sella–sphenoid angle (a representation of the coronal slope of FO). Mann–Whitney U tests assessed the difference in measurements for patients who succeeded and failed cannulation.

RESULTS: Among 37 patients who met inclusion criteria, 34 (91.9%) successfully underwent cannulation. Successful cannulation was associated with larger inlet widths (median = 5.87 vs 3.67 mm, U = 6.0, P = .006), larger outlet widths (median = 7.13 vs 5.10 mm, U = 14.0, P = .040), and smaller sella–sphenoid angles (median = 52.00°vs 111.00°, U = 0.0, P < .001). Interforaminal distances were not associated with the ability to cannulate FO surgically.

CONCLUSION: We have identified morphological characteristics associated with successful cannulation in percutaneous rhizotomies for TN. Preoperative imaging may optimize surgical technique and predict cannulation failure.