Safe and bloodless exposure of the third segment of the vertebral artery: a step-by-step overview based on over 50 personal cases

Neurosurg Rev. 2019 Dec;42(4):991-997. doi: 10.1007/s10143-019-01158-5. Epub 2019 Aug 13.


Craniovertebral junction surgery usually requires the exposure of the third segment of the vertebral artery (V3). However, the complexity of musculature, a relatively high incidence of anomalies in the course of the vertebral artery (VA), and the presence of a rich venous plexus in this region make the V3 exposure challenging with a high risk of serious complications while taking down the suboccipital muscles in a single layer. A muscle dissection in interfascial layers, however, overcomes the drawbacks inherent in a blind dissection of the V3 as each of the muscles represents substantial landmark aiding subsequent step of the procedure and thus helping identify underlying anatomical structure early and safely. Moreover, along with a bloodless VA dissection off its surrounding venous plexus, it permits a safe and comfortable V3 exposure during the surgically demanding procedures.

Keywords: Suboccipital interfascial muscular dissection; Suboccipital triangle; Venous plexus; Vertebral artery.

MeSH terms

  • Dissection / methods*
  • Humans
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / methods*
  • Vertebral Artery / surgery*