Operative exposure and management of the petrous and upper cervical internal carotid artery

L. N. Sekhar, V. L. Schramm, N. F. Jones, H. Yonas, J. Horton, Richard E Latchaw, H. Curtin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


The exposure and operative management of the petrous and upper cervical internal carotid artery (ICA) in 29 patients is detailed. Twenty-seven of these patients had extensive cranial base neoplasms (benign or malignant), 1 had an inflammatory cholesteatoma, and 1 had an aneurysm of the upper cervical ICA immediately proximal to the carotid canal. Preoperative studies useful in the evaluation of these patients included computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, cerebral and cervical angiography, and a balloon occlusion test of the ICA with evaluation of neurological status and of cerebral blood flow. The exposure of the upper cervical and petrous ICA was useful to obtain proximal control of the cavernous ICA, aided in the operative approach to extensive petroclival, intracavernous, and parapharyngeal neoplasms, and enabled the total resection of 23 of 27 such tumors. A subtemporal and preauricular infratemporal fossa approach was most commonly used for the exposure of the artery. Intraoperative arterial management consisted of exposure and decompression only, dissection from encasing neoplasm, resection of the invaded arterial segment and vein graft reconstruction, or intentional arterial occlusion. Vascular complications included 1 stroke due to delayed arterial occlusion, 1 stroke and death due to infection spreading from the nasopharynx with bilateral ICA rupture, and 1 pseudoaneurysm formation secondary to wound infection necessitating postoperative balloon occlusion of the ICA. Nonvascular complications included facial nerve paralysis in 10 patients (usually temporary), glossopharyngeal and vagal paralysis in 13 patients requiring Teflon injection of the vocal cord in 9, temporary difficulties with mastication in 9 patients, and wound infection in 3. The surgical exposure and management of the upper cervical and petrous ICA may permit a total operative resection of extensive cranial base neoplasms and is also an alternative for the management of vascular lesions involving these segments of the artery. With malignant neoplasms extending from the nasopharynx, postoperative infection remains a problem and may best be resolved by the use of a vascularized rectus abdominis muscle flap to reconstruct defects of the nasopharynx. Bilateral ICA encasement by neoplasms is also a major problem to be solved. The value of such an aggressive approach to the management of malignant neoplasms remains to be proven.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)967-982
Number of pages16
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery


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