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Neurosurg Focus. 2005 Jul 15;19(1):E6.

Expanded endonasal approach: fully endoscopic, completely transnasal approach to the middle third of the clivus, petrous bone, middle cranial fossa, and infratemporal fossa.

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Minimally Invasive Endoneurosurgical Center, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.



The middle third of the clivus and the region around the petrous internal carotid artery (ICA) is a difficult area of the skull base in terms of access. This is a deep area rich with critical neurovascular structures, which is often host to typical skull base diseases. Expanded endoscopic endonasal approaches offer a potential option for accessing this difficult region. The objective of this paper was to establish the clinical feasibility of gaining access to the paraclival space in the region of the middle third of the clivus, to provide a practical modular and clinically applicable classification, and to describe the relevant critical surgical anatomy for each module.


The anatomical organization of the region around the petrous ICA, cavernous sinus, and middle clivus is presented, with approaches divided into zones. In an accompanying paper in this issue by Cavallo, et al., the anatomy of the pterygopalatine fossa is presented; this was observed through cadaveric dissection for which an expanded endonasal approach was used. In the current paper the authors translate the aforementioned anatomical study to provide a clinically applicable categorization of the endonasal approach to the region around the petrous ICA. A series of zones inferior and superior to the petrous ICA are described, with an illustrative case presented for each region.


The expanded endonasal approach is a feasible approach to the middle third of the clivus, petrous ICA, cavernous sinus, and medial infratemporal fossa in cases in which the lesion is located centrally, with neurovascular structures displaced laterally.

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