Microvascular anatomy of the cerebellar parafloccular perforating space

Microvascular anatomy of parafloccular perforating space

J Neurosurg 124:440–449, 2016

The cerebellopontine angle is a common site for tumor growth and vascular pathologies requiring surgical manipulations that jeopardize cranial nerve integrity and cerebellar and brainstem perfusion. To date, a detailed study of vessels perforating the cisternal surface of the middle cerebellar peduncle—namely, the paraflocculus or parafloccular perforating space—has yet to be published. In this report, the perforating vessels of the anterior inferior cerebellar artery (AICA) in the parafloccular space, or on the cisternal surface of the middle cerebellar peduncle, are described to elucidate their relevance pertaining to microsurgery and the different pathologies that occur at the cerebellopontine angle.

Methods Fourteen cadaveric cerebellopontine cisterns (CPCs) were studied. Anatomical dissections and analysis of the perforating arteries of the AICA and posterior inferior cerebellar artery at the parafloccular space were recorded using direct visualization by surgical microscope, optical histology, and scanning electron microscope. A comprehensive review of the English-language and Spanish-language literature was also performed, and findings related to anatomy, histology, physiology, neurology, neuroradiology, microsurgery, and endovascular surgery pertaining to the cerebellar flocculus or parafloccular spaces are summarized.

Results A total of 298 perforating arteries were found in the dissected specimens, with a minimum of 15 to a maximum of 26 vessels per parafloccular perforating space. The average outer diameter of the cisternal portion of the perforating arteries was 0.11 ± 0.042 mm (mean ± SD) and the average length was 2.84 ± 1.2 mm. Detailed schematics and the surgical anatomy of the perforating vessels at the CPC and their clinical relevance are reported.

Conclusions The parafloccular space is a key entry point for many perforating vessels toward the middle cerebellar peduncle and lateral brainstem, and it must be respected and protected during surgical approaches to the cerebellopontine angle.