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Surg Neurol Int. 2010 Nov 18;1:71. doi: 10.4103/2152-7806.72581.

Adhesion of rhomboid lip to lower cranial nerves as special consideration in microvascular decompression for hemifacial spasm: Report of two cases.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Faculty of Medicine, Saga University, 5-5-1 Nabeshima, Saga, 849-8501, Japan.



Although the rhomboid lip is a well-known structure constructing the foramen of Luschka, less attention has been directed to the structure for posterior fossa microsurgeries. The authors report two cases of the hemifacial spasm (HFS) with a large rhomboid lip, focusing on the importance of the structure during microvascular decompression.


A 59-year-old female presenting with left HFS was admitted to our hospital. A preoperative magnetic resonance image demonstrated an offending artery at the root exit zone of the VII nerve. The patient underwent microvascular decompression through the lateral suboccipital approach. The intraoperative findings showed that a large rhomboid lip adhered to the IX and X cranial nerves and prevented the exposure of the root exit zone of the VII cranial nerve. The rhomboid lip was meticulously separated from the cranial nerves so that the choroid plexus of the foramen of Luschka and the rhomboid lip could be safely lifted with a spatula, and the offending artery was successfully detached from the root exit zone. In another case of a 60-year-old male, the rhomboid lip was so large that it needed to be incised before separating it from the lower cranial nerves. In each case, the HFS was resolved following surgery without any new deficits.


The large rhomboid lip adhering to the cranial nerves should be given more attention in the posterior fossa surgeries and should be managed based on the microsurgical anatomy for preventing unexpected lower cranial nerve deficit.


Hemifacial spasm; infrafloccular approach; microvascular decompression; rhomboid lip

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