Endoscopic endonasal surgery to treat intrinsic brainstem lesions: correlation between anatomy and surgery

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T.E. Topczewski - A.D. Somma - D. Culebras - L. Reyes - J. Torales - A. Tercero - C. Langdon - I. Alobid - R. Torne - P. Roldan - A. Prats-Galino - J. Enseñat

OBJECTIVE: The endoscopic endonasal approach (EEA) has been proposed as an alternative in the surgical removal of ventral brainstem lesions. However, the feasibility and limitations of this approach to treat such pathologies are still poorly understood. This study aimed to report our experience in five consecutive cases of intrinsic brainstem lesions that were managed via an EEA, as well as the specific anatomy of each case.
METHODS: All patients were treated in a single center by a multidisciplinary surgical team between 2015 and 2019. Before surgery, a dedicated anatomical analysis of the brainstem safe entry zone was performed, and proper surgical planning was carried out. Neurophysiological monitoring was used in all cases. Anatomical dissections were performed in three human cadaveric heads using 0° and 30° endoscopes, and specific 3D reconstructions were executed using Amira 3D software.
RESULTS: All lesions were located at the level of the ventral brainstem. Specifically, one mesencephalic cavernoma, two pontine ca- vernomas, one pontine gliomas, and one medullary diffuse midline glioma were reported. Cerebrospinal fluid leak was the major complication that occurred in one case (medullary diffuse midline glioma). From an anatomical standpoint, three main safe entry zones were used, namely the anterior mesencephalic zone (AMZ), the peritrigeminal zone (PTZ, used in two cases), and the olivar zone (OZ). Reviewing the literature, 17 cases of various brainstem lesions treated using an EEA were found.
CONCLUSIONS: To our knowledge, this was the first preliminary clinical series of intrinsic brainstem lesions treated via an EEA presented in the literature. The EEA can be considered a valid surgical alternative to traditional transcranial approaches to treat selected intra-axial brainstem lesions located at the level of the ventral brainstem. To achieve good results, surgery must involve comprehensive anatomical knowledge, meticulous preoperative surgical planning, and intraoperative neurophysiological moni- toring.

T.E. Topczewski - A.D. Somma - D. Culebras - L. Reyes - J. Torales - A. Tercero - C. Langdon - I. Alobid - R. Torne - P. Roldan - A. Prats-Galino - J. Enseñat - Endoscopic endonasal surgery to treat intrinsic brainstem lesions: correlation between anatomy and surgery

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