Radiographic anatomy of the infracochlear approach to the petrous apex for computer-assisted surgery.

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OBJECTIVE: 1) To define the surgical anatomy and dimensions of the infracochlear approach to the petrous apex through the use of high-resolution computed tomography and 2) use of digitized images of cadaveric temporal bones for computer simulation of infracochlear access using the Ohio Supercomputer Center/Ohio State University temporal bone simulator.

BACKGROUND: The petrous apex is a surgically challenging area to access. Many routes have been described and used successfully in clinical practice. However, these routes have not been defined with the aim of application in computer-assisted surgery. The infracochlear approach, due to its access via a transcanal route, affords the opportunity for its potential application in minimally invasive computer-assisted surgery.

METHODS: High-resolution computed tomographic scans were performed on 102 cadaveric skulls (204 temporal bones). Standard measurements were taken using an open-source picture archiving and communication system software of the maximum height, width, and depth of the infracochlear approach. In addition, the maximum diameter of a circular fenestration that could be created in the infracochlear space without breaching the basal turn of the cochlea, internal carotid artery, or the jugular bulb was used to simulate a drill path. In addition, 5 temporal bone specimens (3 left, 2 right) underwent high-resolution computed tomography, with the digitized images being used to create simulated temporal bones for infracochlear surgical access; the transcanal infracochlear approach was then performed by the same surgeon on the cadaveric bone.

RESULTS: The mean height, width, and depth of the infracochlear space in temporal bones with nonpneumatized petrous apices were 7.2 +/- 0.4, 9.4 +/- 0.8, and 17.5 +/- 1.0 mm, respectively. Corresponding dimensions in pneumatized petrous apices were 7.6 +/- 0.4, 10.1 +/- 1.1, and 18.6 +/- 0.8 mm, respectively. The mean diameter of the circular fenestra in the nonpneumatized petrous apices was 5.1 +/- 0.4 compared with 5.7 +/- 0.6 mm in pneumatized petrous pieces. This was statistically significant (unpaired t test; p value = 0.04). The time to perform a simulated infracochlear approach to the petrous apex ranged from 3.1 to 12.6 minutes (mean, 6.1 minutes). The time to perform the same approach on the cadaveric bone ranged from 4.32 to 14.1 minutes (mean, 9.3 minutes).

CONCLUSION: Temporal bones with pneumatized petrous apices have an overall larger infracochlear space. The mean diameter of a circular infracochlear path that would avoid damage to vital structures was sufficiently large in both pneumatized and nonpneumatized petrous apices to have a potential application as a safe approach in computer-assisted surgery. Such an application is feasible with mating of a robotic system with computed tomographic- or magnetic resonance imaging-guided imagery, which is the next phase of this study.





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Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Surgery

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