Microsurgical exposure of the petrous portion of the carotid artery

J Neurosurg. 1977 Nov;47(5):713-26. doi: 10.3171/jns.1977.47.5.0713.


Occlusion of the cervical portion of the internal carotid artery (ICA) has been treated by vein graft bypass from the common carotid to the supraclinoid segment. However, this procedure has the disadvantages of requiring temporary occlusion of collateral flow, the short length of ICA available for anastomosis, and the retraction required for exposure of the supraclinoid area. In an attempt to find a more suitable bypass site for grafting, the petrous portion of 50 carotid arteries was studied in cadavers. It was found that there was a 1-cm length of the horizontal segment of the petrous carotid that could be exposed in the floor of the middle fossa lateral to the trigeminal nerve. This segment was covered by dura only or a thin layer of cartilage in approximately half of the specimens. In the remainder, there was often a thin shell of bone covering the artery, which could be drilled away. The petrous portion of the carotid artery had branches in only 38% of specimens, a Vidian branch in 30%, and a periosteal branch in 8%. The carotico-tympanic artery, previously reported to be the most common branch, was not found in a single case. These branches allow the retrograde flow needed to maintain the patency of this segment following proximal occlusions. The relationship of the carotid artery to structures include the cochlea, middle ear, Eustachian tube, tensor tympani muscle, geniculate ganglion, and facial, greater petrosal, and trigminal nerves.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Carotid Artery, Internal / anatomy & histology
  • Carotid Artery, Internal / surgery*
  • Cochlea / anatomy & histology
  • Ear, Middle / anatomy & histology
  • Eustachian Tube / anatomy & histology
  • Facial Nerve / anatomy & histology
  • Humans
  • Microsurgery / methods*
  • Petrous Bone / surgery
  • Trigeminal Nerve / anatomy & histology