Impact of C-shaped skin incision on surgical operability in the retrosigmoid approach: when a good start is half of the job

Acta Neurochir (Wien). 2021 Aug;163(8):2155-2163. doi: 10.1007/s00701-021-04889-x. Epub 2021 Jun 7.


Background: The retrosigmoid approach (RSA) is one of the routes of choice to approach tumors and vascular lesions of the cerebellopontine angle. Among different types of skin incisions and soft tissue dissection techniques, the most widely used variants comprise the straight/lazy S-shaped and the C-shaped incisions. Several reports discuss advantages in terms of functional and clinical outcomes of the C-shaped incision, but scientific considerations about the critical impact of this kind of incision on surgical operability are still extremely limited.

Object: Authors comparatively analyze the advantage provided by C-shaped incision in RSA in terms of anatomic exposure and surgical operability, compared with straight/lazy S-shaped one.

Methods: A comparative microanatomical laboratory investigation was conducted. The operability score (OS) was applied for quantitative analysis of surgical operability.

Results: C-shaped incision, providing a significant reduction of the overall working distance (-13%) together with an overall increase of the maneuverability area (+ 204.9%), did improve the conizing effect on the surgical corridor. It optimized overall maneuverability of surgical instruments, in terms of angle of attack (+ 27.7%), as well as maneuverability arc (+ 122%), on the entire surgical field. C-shaped incision ensured good operability on all surgical targets (OS ranging from 2 to 3), most significantly improving surgical maneuverability at the porus trigeminus and internal acoustic meatus.

Conclusion: C-shaped incision in the RSA significantly improves anatomic exposure and surgical operability as compared with straight/lazy S-shaped incision.

Keywords: C-shaped incision; Cerebellopontine angle; Retrosigmoid approach; Surgical operability.

MeSH terms

  • Cerebellopontine Angle / surgery
  • Craniotomy*
  • Dermatologic Surgical Procedures
  • Dissection
  • Humans
  • Microsurgery
  • Skin