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A study of middle cranial fossa anatomy and anatomic variations

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August 1, 2007
by Hamid R. Djalilian, MD; Kunal H. Thakkar, MD; Sanaz Hamidi, MD; Aaron G. Benson, MD; Mahmood F. Mafee, MD
We conducted a study to establish standardized measurements of the common anatomic landmarks used during surgery via the middle cranial fossa approach. Results were based on high-resolution computed tomography (CT) images of 98 temporal bones in 54 consecutively presenting patients. Measurements were obtained with the assistance of the standard PACS (picture archiving and communication system) software. We found that the superior semicircular canal (SSC) dome was not the highest point on the temporal bone (i.e., the arcuate eminence) in 78 of the temporal bone images (79.6%). Pneumatization above the SSC and above the internal auditory canal (IAC) was found in 27 (27.6%) and 39 (39.8%) temporal bone images, respectively. The anterior wall of the external auditory canal was always anterior to the anterior wall of the IAC. The mean angles between the SSC and the posterior and anterior walls of the IAC were 42.3° and 60.8°, respectively. We also measured other distances, and we compared our findings with those published by others. We hope that the results of our study will help surgeons safely and rapidly locate anatomic landmarks when performing surgery via the middle cranial fossa approach.

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