OBJECTIVE: To describe the surgical anatomy of the anterior, middle, and posterior portions of the medial temporal region and to present an anatomic-based classification of the approaches to this area.
METHODS: Twenty formalin-fixed, adult cadaveric specimens were studied. Ten brains provided measurements to compare different surgical strategies. Approaches were demonstrated using 10 silicon-injected cadaveric heads. Surgical cases were used to illustrate the results by the different approaches. Transverse lines at the level of the inferior choroidal point and quadrigeminal plate were used to divide the medial temporal region into anterior, middle, and posterior portions. Surgical approaches to the medial temporal region were classified into four groups: superior, lateral, basal, and medial, based on the surface of the lobe through which the approach was directed. The approaches through the medial group were subdivided further into an anterior approach, the transsylvian transcisternal approach, and two posterior approaches, the occipital interhemispheric and supracerebellar transtentorial approaches.
RESULTS: The anterior portion of the medial temporal region can be reached through the superior, lateral, and basal surfaces of the lobe and the anterior variant of the approach through the medial surface. The posterior group of approaches directed through the medial surface are useful for lesions located in the posterior portion. The middle part of the medial temporal region is the most challenging area to expose, where the approach must be tailored according to the nature of the lesion and its extension to other medial temporal areas.
CONCLUSION: Each approach to medial temporal lesions has technical or functional drawbacks that should be considered when selecting a surgical treatment for a given patient. Dividing the medial temporal region into smaller areas allows for a more precise analysis, not only of the expected anatomic relationships, but also of the possible choices for the safe resection of the lesion. The systematization used here also provides the basis for selection of a combination of approaches.