Anterior clivectomy: surgical technique and clinical applications.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

OBJECT: Midline clival lesions, whether involving the clivus or simply situated anterior to the brainstem, present a technical challenge for adequate exposure and safe resection. The authors describe, as a minimally invasive technique, an anterior clivectomy performed via an expanded transsphenoidal approach coupled with the use of a neuronavigation on mobile head and endoscopic-assisted technique. Wide and direct exposure, with the ability to resect extra- and intradural tumors, was achieved without mortality and with a low rate of complications. METHODS: Cadaveric dissections were performed to outline the landmarks and measure the window that is created by resecting the clivus anteriorly. The technique was used in 43 patients to resect tumors located at or invading the clivus. The initial exposure of the clivus was obtained via the sublabial transsphenoidal approach. The wall of the anterior maxilla, often on 1 side, was removed to allow a wide side-to-side opening of the nasal speculum. Using neuronavigation, the authors made clivectomy windows by drilling the clivus between anatomical landmarks. Bilateral intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring was used (somatosensory evoked potentials, brainstem auditory evoked responses, and cranial nerves VI-XII). RESULTS: Of the 43 patients, 26 were female and 17 were male, and they ranged in age from 3.5 to 76 years (mean 41.5 years). Thirty-eight patients harbored a chordoma and 5 a giant invasive pituitary adenoma. Gross-total resection of the tumor was achieved in 34 cases (79%). Nine patients (21%) had residual tumor unreachable through the anterior clivectomy, and this required a second-stage resection. Four patients developed new transient extraocular movement deficits. One patient developed a permanent cranial nerve VI palsy. Twenty-seven patients with chordoma underwent postoperative proton-beam radiotherapy. Tumor recurred in 19% of these cases. In 3 patients a cerebrospinal fluid leak developed during hospitalization and was treated successfully. Two other patients presented with a delayed cerebrospinal fluid leak after radiotherapy. Only 1 patient, who had previously undergone Gamma Knife surgery, experienced postoperative hemiparesis. CONCLUSIONS: A complete anterior clivectomy via a simple extension of the transsphenoidal approach allows the surgeon access to different lesions involving the clivus or situated anterior to the brainstem. The exposure is similar to that provided by more extensive transfacial approaches. Instrument manipulation is easy. Neuronavigation, endoscopy, and intraoperative monitoring are easily incorporated and enhance the capability and safety of this approach.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Al-Mefty, O; Kadri, PAS; Hasan, DM; Isolan, GR; Pravdenkova, S

Published Date

  • November 2008

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 109 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 783 - 793

PubMed ID

  • 18976066

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-3085

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.3171/JNS/2008/109/11/0783


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States