Neurosurg Focus 34 (3):E4, 2013
Interest in studying the anatomy of the abducent nerve arose from early clinical experience with abducent palsy seen in middle ear infection. Primo Dorello, an Italian anatomist working in Rome in the early 1900s, studied the anatomy of the petroclival region to formulate his own explanation of this pathological entity. His work led to his being credited with the discovery of the canal that bears his name, although this structure had been described 50 years previously by Wenzel Leopold Gruber. Renewed interest in the anatomy of this region arose due to advances in surgical approaches to tumors of the petroclival region and the need to explain the abducent palsies seen in trauma, intracranial hypotension, and aneurysms. The advent of the surgical microscope has allowed more detailed anatomical studies, and numerous articles have been published in the last 2 decades. The current article highlights the historical development of the study of the Dorello canal. A review of the anatomical studies of this structure is provided, followed by a brief overview of clinical considerations.