In the modern era of neurosurgery, the use of the operative microscope, rigid rod-lens endoscope, and neuronavigation has helped to overcome some of the previous limitations of surgery due to poor lighting and anatomic localization available to the surgeon. Over the last thirty years, the supraorbital craniotomy and subfrontal approach through an eyebrow skin incision have been developed and refined to play a legitimate role in the armamentarium of the modern skull base neurosurgeon. With careful patient selection, the supraorbital “keyhole” approach offers a less invasive but still efficacious approach to a number of lesions along the subfrontal corridor. In 2013 over 1000 cases have been reported in the literature utilizing this approach establishing its safety and efficacy 1).
Pain on mastication was the most commonly reported approach-related complication of the minipterional craniotomy, and occurred in 7.5% of cases. Temporary palsy of the frontal branch of the facial nerve and temporary supraorbital hypesthesia were associated with the supraorbital craniotomy (SOC) eyebrow variant, and occurred in 6.5%, respectively in 3.6% of cases. Transient postoperative periorbital edema and transient ophthalmoparesis occurred in 36.8% and 17.4% of cases, respectively, when the SOC was performed via an eyelid skin incision. The risk of occurrence of the latter 2 complications was related to the removal of the orbital rim, which is an obligatory part of the SOC approach through the eyelid but optional with the SOC eyebrow variant.
Each of the 3 keyhole approaches has a specific set and incidence of approach-related complications. It is essential to be aware of these complications to make the safest individual choice.
For unruptured anterior circulation aneurysms, a superciliary keyhole approach using a supraorbital minicraniotomy, rather than a pterional approach, is invariably limited due to the small cranial opening.
Most anterior circulation aneurysms can still be clipped safely, rapidly, and less invasively using a superciliary approach based on appropriate indications and refined surgical technique 3) 4) 5) 6) 7) 8) 9) 10) 11) 12)
Patients who underwent an ipsilateral superciliary keyhole approach and a contralateral pterional approach for bilateral intracranial aneurysms during an 11-year period were contacted and asked to complete a patient satisfaction questionnaire. The questionnaire covered 5 complaint areas related to the surgical approaches: craniotomy-related pain, sensory symptoms in the head, cosmetic complaints, palpable cranial irregularities, and limited mouth opening. The patients were asked to rate the 5 complaint areas on a scale from 0 (asymptomatic or very pleasant) to 4 (severely symptomatic or very unpleasant). Finally, the patients were asked to rate the level of overall satisfaction related to each surgical procedure on a visual analog scale (VAS) from 0 (most unsatisfactory) to 100 (most satisfactory).
A total of 21 patients completed the patient satisfaction questionnaire during a follow-up clinic visit. For the superciliary procedures, no craniotomy-related pain, palpable irregularities, or limited mouth opening was reported, and only minor sensory symptoms (numbness in the forehead) and cosmetic complaints (short linear operative scar) were reported (score = 1) by 1 (4.8%) and 3 patients (14.3%), respectively. Compared with the pterional approach, the superciliary approach showed better outcomes regarding the incidence of craniotomy-related pain, cosmetic complaints, and palpable irregularities, with a significant between-approach difference (p < 0.05). Furthermore, the VAS score for patient satisfaction was significantly higher for the superciliary approach (mean 95.2 ± 6.0 [SD], range 80-100) than for the pterional approach (mean 71.4 ± 10.6, range 50-90). Moreover, for the pterional approach, a multiple linear regression analysis indicated that the crucial factors decreasing the level of patient satisfaction were cosmetic complaints, craniotomy-related pain, and sensory symptoms, in order of importance (p < 0.05).
In successful cases in which the primary surgical goal of complete aneurysm clipping without postoperative complications is achieved, a superciliary keyhole approach provides a much higher level of patient satisfaction than a pterional approach, despite a facial wound. For a pterional approach, the patient satisfaction level is affected by the cosmetic results, craniotomy-related pain, and numbness behind the hairline, in order of importance 13).