Minimally Invasive Endoscopic Supracerebellar-Infratentorial Surgery of the Pineal Region: Anatomical Comparison of Four Variant Approaches



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Objective The endoscopic supracerebellar-infratentorial (SCIT) approach is a viable method to access pathology of the posterior incisura, but a narrow working space and frequent instrument conflict can potentially limit its surgical efficacy. Until now, no rigorous studies were available comparing surgical freedom and angle of attack for four previously well-described approaches to pineal region targets. Methods Four formalin-fixed cadaver heads were dissected bilaterally (eight sides). A midline approach and three progressively lateral approaches to the pineal region were performed (paramedian, lateral, extreme lateral), and anatomical targets were identified. Utilizing frameless stereotaxy, we calculated surgical freedom using the vector cross-product method for all approaches for the exposed area and for three anatomical targets (pineal gland, ipsilateral superior colliculus, splenium). The mean and maximum possible angles of attack were calculated in the axial and sagittal planes. Results Point target surgical freedom, exposed area surgical freedom, and angle of attack for each individual pineal region target can be maximized depending on the medial-to-lateral location of the craniotomy. For endoscopic-controlled approaches, the extreme lateral approach provides the largest surgical freedom when accessing the ipsilateral superior colliculus (P < 0.0001), the lateral approach provides the largest surgical freedom to the pineal gland (P < 0.0001), and the paramedian craniotomy provides the largest surgical freedom when accessing the splenium (P < 0.0001). The extreme lateral approach to the pineal gland provided the largest horizontal angle of attack (P < 0.0001), and the extreme lateral approach to the ipsilateral superior colliculus provided the largest vertical angle of attack (P < 0.001). The microscope provides marginally increased surgical freedom and a better angle of attack to specific anatomical targets in the paramedian and extreme lateral approach compared with those provided by the endoscope, but these differences are negligible during intraoperative application. Conclusions Presurgical planning and a detailed understanding of the important neurovascular structures in the pineal region are paramount to safe and successful surgical execution. Our current cadaveric study indicates that the medial-to-lateral location of craniotomy can maximize access to pineal region targets. Furthermore, the endoscope is a viable alternative to the microscope for identifying pathology of the posterior incisura. These differences in surgical freedom and angle of attack to the pineal region may be useful to consider when planning minimal-access approaches.

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World Neurosurgery







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