OBJECTIVE: To quantify surgical access to the internal auditory canal (IAC) using an exclusively endoscopic transcanal approach (EETA) and investigate surgically relevant relationships with neurovascular and osseous landmarks of the temporal bone.
MATERIALS and METHODS: Anatomical dissection of two paired temporal bones and 15 unpaired temporal bones was performed using an exclusively endoscopic approach to IAC. The dissection proceeded until the cerebellopontine angle (CPA) could be accessed. Following dissection, all the specimens were subjected to computed tomography (CT) imaging. Anatomage InVivo5 software was used to analyze the CT scans and record measurements.
RESULTS: CPA access and visualization of the labyrinthine segment of the facial nerve were achieved in all specimens. The mean distances from the carotid artery, jugular bulb, and middle fossa to the surgical opening (or fundostomy) of IAC were 4.1±1.5, 6.4±2.5, and 5.5±1.9 mm, respectively. The mean cross-sectional areas of the fundostomy and tympanic ring were 30.8±10.4 and 67.7±11.3 mm2. The mean distances from the osteo–cartilaginous junction and tympanic ring to the porus acusticus were 29±2.6 and 21±2.3 mm, respectively.
CONCLUSION: Transcanal access to the entire IAC can be safely achieved using an exclusively endoscopic approach. Generous removal of the cochlear promontory can be accomplished while a safe distance is maintained from key neurovascular structures. EETA to IAC offers a minimally invasive alternative to patients without serviceable hearing for intrameatal and medial IAC tumors. Increased knowledge of crucial anatomical relationships involved in this approach will facilitate acceptance and utilization.