Promontory drilling in stapedectomy

An anatomical study

Nicholas C. Saunders*, Paul A. Fagan

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    BACKGROUND: Anatomical variants such as an overhanging facial nerve or promontory can impede access to the footplate during stapedectomy. Drilling away bone from the cochlear promontory may be required. In the case of a floating or depressed footplate, it has been recommended that a "pothole" be drilled in the inferior margin of the oval window. There is little published information on the anatomy of the promontory with respect to these maneuvers. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Twenty temporal bones were studied. A series of measurements was made to assess how much bone may safely be removed without risking damage to the underlying cochlear endosteum and, hence, spiral ligament and stria vascularis. RESULTS: The bony promontory is thickest posteriorly, and here, the endosteum has least lateral projection. The promontory becomes thinner closer to the oval window. Moving anteriorly, the bone becomes thinner and the underlying endo steum more closely follows the bony contour. The stria vascularis and spiral ligament may be less than 0.2 mm inferior to the inferior margin of the oval window posteriorly. This distance is at least 0.3 mm at the midpoint of the footplate (range, 0.3-0.5 mm). CONCLUSION: Bone may be removed inferiorly to the posterior one-third of the footplate from lateral to a line that makes an angle of 35 degrees with the superoinferior axis of the footplate. In creating a "pothole" in the case of a floating or depressed footplate, the authors recommend that it be created at the midpoint of the inferior margin of the oval window and should not exceed 0.3 mm in diameter.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)776-780
    Number of pages5
    JournalOtology and Neurotology
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2006


    • Anatomy
    • Otosclerosis
    • Stapedectomy
    • Stapedotomy
    • Surgical technique

    Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Promontory drilling in stapedectomy: An anatomical study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this