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Skull base surgery. 1998; 8(3): 119–125.
PMCID: PMC1656679

Microsurgical Anatomy for Lateral Approaches to the Foramen Magnum with Special Reference to Transcondylar Fossa (Supracondylar Transjugular Tubercle) Approach


Microsurgical anatomy for lateral approaches to the foramen magnum, especially for transcondylar fossa (supracondylar transjugular tubercle) approach, was studied using cadavers. The transcondylar fossa approach is an approach in which extradural removal of the posterior portion of the jugular tubercle through the condylar fossa is added to the far lateral approach. Some differences between this approach and the transcondylar approach are demonstrated. The atlanto-occipital joint and the jugular tubercle are obstacles for the lateral approaches. The condylar fossa forming the external occipital surface of the jugular tubercle is located supero-posterior to the occipital condyle. The fossa is limited laterally by the sigmoid sulcus and the jugular foramen. The posterior condylar canal communicating anteriorly with the distal end of the sigmoid sulcus, the jugular foramen, or the hypoglossal canal opens at the bottom of the fossa. The condyle is situated inferior to the posterior condylar and hypoglossal canals, and the jugular tubercle is located superior to them. In the transcondylar fossa approach the posterior part of the jugular tubercle is extradurally removed, but the condyle and the atlanto-occipital joint are untouched. On the other band, in the transcondylar approach the medial parts of the condyle and the lateral mass of Cl are removed. The latter approach offers better visualization of the inferior part of the foramen magnum. The essential difference of the two approaches is in the direction of looking and the extent of resection of the atlanto-occipital joint. Both approaches offer excellent view of the ventral dural space in the lower clivus and the foramen magnum, but the level of exposure differs somewhat between them. In the lateral approaches to the foramen magnum, the condylar fossa, the posterior condylar canal, and the posterior condylar emissary vein all play an important role as intraoperative anatomical landmarks.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
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