Anterolateral Approach for Retrostyloid Superior Parapharyngeal Space Schwannomas Involving the Jugular Foramen Area: A 20-Year Experience

Sabino Luzzi, Alice Giotta Lucifero, Mattia Del Maestro, Giovanni Marfia, Stefania Elena Navone, Matias Baldoncini, Maximiliano Nuñez, Alvaro Campero, Samer K. Elbabaa, Renato Galzio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Schwannomas encompassing the superior parapharyngeal space are challenging lesions because of the anatomical complexity of this region and the frequent involvement of the neurovascular structures of the jugular foramen. The purpose of this study is to report the technical aspects and the advantages of the anterolateral approach, here proposed for schwannomas of this complex area. Methods: The main steps of the anterolateral approach are described in detail, along with the results of a consecutive series of 38 patients with a retrostyloid superior parapharyngeal schwannoma involving the jugular foramen operated on by means of this route between 1999 and 2019. Results: The supine position is generally preferred. The medial border of the sternocleidomastoid muscle, mastoid tip, and superior nuchal line are the landmarks for the hockey-stick skin incision. The accessory nerve is retrieved and mobilized cranially. Detachment of the sternocleidomastoid, digastric, and nuchal muscles allows for a 180° exposure of the extracranial side of the jugular foramen. Three working corridors, namely the pre-carotid, pre-jugular, and retro-jugular, allow access to the deeper part of the jugular foramen area and the superior parapharyngeal space. In the present series, a gross total resection was achieved in 89.4% of the patients. Three recurrences occurred after an average follow-up of 80.5 ± 51 months. Conclusions: The anterolateral approach is highly effective in the treatment of retrostyloid superior parapharyngeal space schwannomas involving the jugular foramen. Its simplicity of execution, versatility, and very low morbidity are among its main strengths.

Original languageEnglish
JournalWorld Neurosurgery
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019


  • Anterolateral approach
  • Glossopharyngeal nerve diseases
  • Jugular foramen tumors
  • Lower cranial nerves
  • Parapharyngeal space
  • Schwannoma
  • Skull base neoplasms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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