Anatomy of the superior petrosal veins and their exposure and management during petrous apex meningioma surgery using the lateral suboccipital retrosigmoid approach

Neurosurg Rev. 2014 Oct;37(4):535-456. doi: 10.1007/s10143-014-0548-4. Epub 2014 Apr 30.


During surgeries in the upper cerebellopontine angle (CPA), the superior petrosal veins (SPVs) often act as obstacles; and their sectioning sometimes causes serious complications. In this study, we introduced a classification system for the SPVs wherein their tributaries were classified into four groups on the basis of their courses and draining areas. We furthermore explained the detailed anatomy of the vein of the cerebellopontine fissure, which is the largest tributary. In surgeries of petrous apex meningioma, the knowledge of the displacement pattern of the vein is very helpful for avoiding major venous complications. Therefore, we elucidated its anatomical situation in relation to the original portion of the meningioma and the natural draining point of the vein into the superior petrosal sinus (SPS) in each patient. In addition, we described the methods and techniques used to expose and manage the vein of the cerebellopontine fissure during surgery using the lateral suboccipital retrosigmoid approach. Presenting two illustrative cases, we recommend that the initial exposure of the tumor should be performed through the infratentorial lateral supracerebellar route and that the suprafloccular cistern is the best area to find the vein of the cerebellopontine fissure. We emphasized the importance of the preservation of the vein of the cerebellopontine fissure and also proposed the order for exposure of SPV tributaries during upper CPA surgery using the retrosigmoid approach.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Brain Neoplasms / surgery
  • Cerebellar Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cerebellar Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Cerebellopontine Angle / surgery
  • Cerebral Veins / anatomy & histology*
  • Cerebral Veins / surgery*
  • Cranial Sinuses / anatomy & histology
  • Cranial Sinuses / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meningioma / pathology
  • Meningioma / surgery*
  • Middle Aged
  • Petrous Bone / anatomy & histology*
  • Petrous Bone / surgery*
  • Skull Base Neoplasms / pathology
  • Skull Base Neoplasms / surgery