Although the term paraclival carotid pervades recent skull base literature, no clear consensus exists regarding boundaries or anatomical segments.To reconcile various internal carotid artery (ICA) nomenclatures for transcranial and endoscopic-endonasal perspectives, we reexamined the transition between lacerum (C3) and cavernous (C4) segments using a C1-C7 segments schema. In this cadaveric study, we obtained a 360°-circumferential view integrating histological, microsurgical, endoscopic, and neuroradiological analyses of this C3-C4 region and identified a distinct transitional segment.In 13 adult, silicone-injected, formalin-fixed cadaveric heads (26 sides), transcranial-extradural-subtemporal and endoscopic-endonasal CT-guided dissections were performed. A quadrilateral area was noted medial to Meckel's cave between cranial nerve VI, anterolateral and posterolateral borders of the lateral-paratrigeminal aspect of the precavernous ICA, and posterior longitudinal ligament. Endoscopically, a medial-paraclival aspect was defined. Anatomical correlations were made with histological and neuroradiological slides.We identified a distinct precavernous C3-C4 transitional segment. In 18 (69%) specimens, venous channels were absent at the quadrilateral area, on the paratrigeminal border of the precavernous ICA. A trigeminal membrane, seen consistently on the superior border of V2, defined the lateral aspect of the cavernous sinus floor. The medial aspect of the precavernous ICA corresponded with the paraclival ICA.Our study revealing the juncture of 2 complementary borders of the ICA, endoscopic endonasal (paraclival) and transcranial (paratrigeminal), reconciles various nomenclature. A precavernous segment may clarify controversies about the paraclival ICA and support the concept of a "safe door" for lesions involving Meckel's cave, cavernous sinus, and petrous apex.
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