Home | About JCVJS | Editorial board | Ahead of print | Current Issue | Archives | Instructions | Subscribe | Advertise | Contact us |   Login 
Journal of Craniovertebral Junction and Spine
Search Articles   
    
Advanced search   
 


 
   Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 58-63  

Odontoidectomy through posterior midline approach followed by same sitting occipitocervical fixation: A cadaveric study


Department of Neurosurgery, Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt

Date of Web Publication9-Feb-2017

Correspondence Address:
Ehab Mohamed Eissa
Department of Neurosurgery, Cairo University, Cairo
Egypt
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0974-8237.199879

Rights and Permissions
   Abstract 

Object: Atlantoaxial instability with irreducible odontoid process is one of the challenges in spine surgery. These lesions are commonly treated through anterior transoral approach which is followed by posterior atlantoaxial fusion. However, there are still many limitations, especially cerebrospinal fluid fistula with subsequent life-threatening infection, difficulty in cases with limited opening of mouth due to temporomandibular arthritis or anomalies of naso-oropharynx. Türe et al. used the extreme lateral transatlas approach for the removal of odontoid. In this study, we applied the transatlas approach but through posterior midline incision aiming to evaluate its safety and feasibility.
Methods: In four silicon injected, formalin-fixed cadaver heads, posterior removal of the odontoid was done through the familiar midline incision and subperiosteal muscle separation and elevation of muscles as on unit followed by microscopic exposure and mobilization of the vertebral artery after opening of the foramen transversarium of atlas followed by drilling of lateral mass and odontoidectomy. Occipitocervical stabilization was done between the occiput and C2, C3 (C1 lateral mass screw can be added in the contralateral side for better stabilization).
Results: Unilateral excision of the lateral mass of atlas after mobilization of the vertebral artery provided safe and excellent exposure of the odontoid process in the four cadaver heads without injury to vertebral artery or retraction of the dura.
Conclusion: Posterior removal of the odontoid can be done safely through wide and sterile operative field, and occipitocervical fixation performed at the same sitting without need for another operation and hence avoids the risk of cord injury from repositioning.

Keywords: Craniocervical junction; extreme lateral-transatlas approach; removal of the odontoid


How to cite this article:
Eissa EM, Eldin MM. Odontoidectomy through posterior midline approach followed by same sitting occipitocervical fixation: A cadaveric study. J Craniovert Jun Spine 2017;8:58-63

How to cite this URL:
Eissa EM, Eldin MM. Odontoidectomy through posterior midline approach followed by same sitting occipitocervical fixation: A cadaveric study. J Craniovert Jun Spine [serial online] 2017 [cited 2020 Mar 31];8:58-63. Available from: http://www.jcvjs.com/text.asp?2017/8/1/58/199879


   Introduction Top


Atlantoaxial instability with irreducible odontoid process is one of the challenges in spine surgery.[1],[2],[3],[4],[5] These lesions are commonly treated through anterior transoral approach.[1],[2],[4],[6],[7],[8],[9],[10] However, there are still many limitations, especially cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) fistula with subsequent life-threatening infection and the need for craniocervical stabilization in another sitting.[5],[10],[11],[12] Türe and Pamir, 2002,[5] used the extreme lateral transatlas approach for posterolateral removal of the odontoid that followed by unilateral occipitocervical fixation.

Since that time, the application and reports about this approach are limited, and we owe this for the difficulty and the risks of exposure of the vertebral artery through posterolateral approach, and most of spine surgeons are not accustomed for this approach to the atlantoaxial region.

In this study, we applied the transatlas approach but through the more familial posterior midline incision that followed by bilateral occipitocervical fixation. The surgical technique is detailed, and the results are analyzed and discussed aiming to evaluate its safety and feasibility.


   Methods Top


This is a cadaveric study that performed in anatomical laboratory of the university. In four silicon injected, formalin-fixed cadaver heads, posterior removal of the odontoid was done in prone position.

Surgical technique

Head position, skin incision, and exposure of the vertebral artery

The head is fixed in prone position with head tilt 15° opposite to side, in which C1 lateral mass will be removed. The familiar midline skin incision is performed and extended laterally (as inverted L) to help in lateral dissection and exposure of the vertebral artery.

Subperiosteal separation and elevation of muscles as on unit was done extending from the external occipital protuberance to C3 with proper exposure of C2/C3 facets bilaterally. This was followed by microscopic exposure of C1/C2 joint bilaterally.

Ipsilateral dissection is continued aiming for proper exposure of the vertebral artery. C2 neurectomy and exposure of C2 pars interarticularis and the inferior articular surface of C1 lateral mass are performed. The inferior articular facet of the atlas is used as a guide that followed to expose atlanto-occipital joints because its vertical projection leads to superior articular facet. These bony landmarks are used for identification and exposure of the vertebral artery. Dissection lateral to C1/C2 joint will expose vertical segment of the vertebral artery before entry into C1 foramen transversarium. Continued dissection lateral to the inferior facet of C1 on the lateral aspect of its posterior arch will expose foramen transversarium with vertebral artery passing through it. The superior facet of C1 lies directly in close relation of the horizontal segment of the vertebral artery and its venous plexus resting over the posterior arch of C1 till dural entry [Figure 1].
Figure 1: The view provided after muscle separation

Click here to view


Microscopic mobilization of the vertebral artery [Figure 2] and [Figure 3]
Figure 2: The dissector introduced in C1 foramen transversarium

Click here to view
Figure 3: Opening of C1 foramen transversarium

Click here to view


The foramen transversarium of C1 is opened after putting small dissector between its posterior limits and the vertebral artery to achieve safe drilling.

Subperiosteal dissection of the vertebral artery is then performed with cutting of muscular branches if needed to achieve maximum mobilization, but care should be taken to avoid extradural origin of posterior inferior cerebellar artery which is uncommon variety that happens near the vertebral dural entry at foramen magnum. After mobilization [Figure 4], the artery can be covered by silastic material or part of surgical gloves to achieve complete protection of it during drilling of the lateral mass.
Figure 4: Mobilization of the vertebral artery

Click here to view


Drilling of atlas with subsequent odontoidectomy [Figure 5],[Figure 6] and [Figure 7]
Figure 5: Drilling of C1 lateral mass

Click here to view
Figure 6: Lateral view shows the exposure of the odontoid process

Click here to view
Figure 7: Complete removal of the odontoid process and decompression of spinal dura

Click here to view


The lateral mass is completely exposed as it has the following surfaces: The superior condylar surface that articulates with occipital condyle, inferior surface with the axis, posterior surface related to the vertebral groove of the posterior arch and hence drilling of this groove separates the lateral mass from posterior arch, anterior surface related to the internal jugular vein, lateral surface related foramen transversarium of the atlas which already opened in the previous stage, and finally the medial surface which is the only one that is invisible at the beginning of drilling, and it seen at the end of this step as it directly related to the odontoid with the ligaments covering it. The drilling is started from the lateral surface at the point of opening of foramen transversarium as with the head position mentioned before this surface is the one that come mostly into the surgical view. The aim of the drilling started from this point is to remove the cortical bone of this surface to proceed into the cancellous bone of lateral mass which removed completely until the cortical bone of the other surfaces appears which further thinned to great degree and removed by curette except anterior surface as it related to the jugular vein. The odontoid process with the covering ligaments is exposed, and confirmation by fluoroscopy can be done. These ligaments are removed, and the odontoid is drilled.

Occipitocervical stabilization [Figure 8]
Figure 8: (a and b) The entry points for screws placement in occiput and C2 pedicle and C3 lateral mass and occipitocervical stabilization

Click here to view


It was done after returning head to the neutral position between the occiput and C2, C3 on both sides with the same known screw entry points and directions. C1 lateral mass screw of the contralateral side can be added for stronger stabilization.


   Results Top


The posterior midline skin incision in the inverted L-shaped manner allows proper and simple dissection and exposure of the atlanto-occipital joint, atlantoaxial joint, and vertebral artery.

Unilateral excision of the lateral mass of atlas after mobilization of the vertebral artery provided safe and excellent exposure and removal of the odontoid process in the four cadaver heads without injury to vertebral artery or retraction of the dura.

Occiput and C2, C3 fixation was done on both sides in all heads in a simple manner.


   Discussion Top


The surgical exposure of anterior craniocervical junction is needed in the treatment of different neoplastic, traumatic, vascular, congenital, and degenerative lesions that affect this region. The anatomical complexity of this region with many important and vital structures makes it one of the challenges in the neurosurgery.[10],[11],[13],[14]

These lesions are commonly treated through transoral approach. Transoral approaches (transpharyngeal, transpalatal, transmaxillary, and transmandibular) are not new surgical procedures. In 1917, Kanavel [8] reported removing a bullet fragment from the anterior arch of C1 through this route. Since Kanavel's early report, the approach has been employed in the treatment of both extradural and intradural pathologies affecting this region.[1],[2],[4],[7],[9],[10],[12] This approach was associated initially with high mortality rate.[5],[7],[10],[11],[12] The recent refinements in microsurgical skills and advances in retraction techniques, operative magnification, and illumination, intraoperative radiology, dural closure techniques, and neuroelectrophysiological monitoring have improved patient outcome with this procedure;[1],[10] however, even with such measures, there are still many unavoidable problems related to this approach. It includes: 1 - narrow, deep surgical field;[9],[11] 2 - CSF fistula and infection;[9],[11] 3 - the procedure cannot be done in cases with limited opening of mouth due to temporomandibular arthritis or anomalies of nasopharynx, oropharynx, mandible, and skull base [5] and in patients in whom the interdental space is shorter than 25 mm, as in those with macroglossia or micrognathia require more extensive approaches as transmaxillary, translabiomandibular approach;[5],[6],[7] 4 - this type of operation with removal of odontoid should be followed with stabilization [2],[3],[4] in the same or in another sitting which carries high risk to the spinal cord during repositioning. Tuite et al.[9] have reported four cases of postoperative acute neurological deterioration, and it is possible that injury occurred when the patients were repositioned after transoral decompression for posterior fusion procedure. Many authors perform preoperative tracheostomy to prevent postoperative respiratory complications, avoid obstruction of the operative field, and make it easier to ensure oral antisepsis,[14] but these modifications aid more to the risks of this approach. More recently, the endoscopic surgery is used to access this region anteriorly, but it needs special experience, and the risk of CSF leak with this minimally invasive technique is not far away with more difficulty in dural repair.[10]

The complex anatomy of this region [15] makes the posterolateral approach associated with high risk to the vertebral artery, especially with drilling bones in this region and hence mobilization of this artery which started by George and Laurian [16] provided a great progress to this approach.

Far lateral and extreme lateral are the variants of this approach. The far lateral approach directed from posterolateral aspect behind the sternocleidomastoid muscle as first reported by Heros;[17] then, it was modified by making it horseshoe scalp flap for easier reflection of the muscle layers as one bulk inferiorly or inferolaterally, thus allowing a wider exposure of the lateral aspect of the upper cervical region.[15],[18],[19],[20] The extreme lateral approach was first described by Sen and Sekhar;[18],[19] this approach differs from far lateral variant in the skin incision, muscular reflection, and the direction of the approach. In extreme lateral approach, the sternocleidomastoid muscle is reflected inferolaterally and then the muscle of this region is divided in anatomical manner to get lateral access to the anterior aspect of craniocervical junction.[21] Both far lateral and extreme lateral can be associated with more bone resection according to the exposure needed and hence there are many variants as condylar with removal of the part of occipital condyle, supracondylar with the removal of jugular tubercle to access the clivus, and paracondylar to remove the jugular process to expose sigmoid-jugular junction.[11],[13],[18],[19],[22],[23],[24],[25]

Al-Mefty et al.[11] introduced the transcondylar variant with the removal of condylar surface of atlas for resection of the dens as alternative to anterior approach. The advantages of this technique are 1 - the wide and sterile operative field and 2 - following resection of the dens, stabilization, and fusion of the craniocervical junction can performed at the same sitting without need for another operation and hence avoids the risk of cord injury from repositioning.[5],[11] Türe et al.[5] describe another elegant posterolateral variant to this region by transatlas access for removal of the odontoid without need of occipital condyle resection, and hence it avoids the risk of damage to the hypoglossal nerve because the hypoglossal canal is situated in the anteromedial, one third of the occipital condyle. The condyle when removed completely carries high risk to hypoglossal nerve and also the jugular bulb.

The described technique for the transatlas approach published 2002, use posterolateral skin incision and muscle dissection for exposure and mobilization of the vertebral artery. This access is not familiar for most of the neurosurgeons, and in addition, it allows only for unilateral fixation. Hence, the application and reports about this technique are limited since that time. In our cadaveric study, we used more simple technique through midline posterior skin incision that curved to the side, in which atlas will be removed. This approach is familial for the neurosurgeons performing C1-C2 fixation but needs special effort for exposure and mobilization of the vertebral artery. In addition, this technique allows simple bilateral occipitocervical fixation with the same known entry points and directions.

Al-Mefty et al.[11] and Türe et al.[5] perform unilateral stabilization and fusion after resection of the odontoid. The unilateral method for stabilization was studied by Song et al.[26] who perform C1–C2 unilateral transarticular screw in conjunction with interspinous bone graft wiring, and postoperatively, all patients were placed in Philadelphia collar for 6–12 weeks, with excellent fusion results. The use of unilateral construct for stabilization in craniocervical instability has been investigated using finite element techniques. These studies indicated that unilateral instrumentation provided stability that borders on the minimum threshold for requisite motion reduction although the degree of motion reduction required in vivo to promote fusion has not been established.[27],[28] Hence, we consider that bilateral fixation (in which contralateral C1 lateral mass screw can be added) performed in our study, and most of studies dealing with occipitocervical fixation provide a more biomechanical stabilization.

We report the same successful results obtained by Türe transatlas approach as regard to adequate exposure and resection of the odontoid without dural injury.

One of the pitfalls and limitations of this study is that there is still a difficulty in exposure and mobilization of the vertebral artery for many neurosurgeons even with this familial midline posterior approach. Hence, we recommend another study in future for the removal of odontoid with same approach but without mobilization of the vertebral artery through bilateral partial atlas resection which allows the removal of odontoid bilaterally (each exposed half of odontoid will be removed from the corresponding side of partially resected atlas).

Special intraoperative consideration

This is a cadaveric study for demonstration of normal anatomical pathway for removal of the odontoid posterolaterally. Application of this technique in real patients needs special considerations starting from the indication for removal of the odontoid which is limited nowadays even in advanced cases of basilar invagination. In elegant studies provided by Goel and Shah, basilar invagination can be treated only by intraoperative traction after anesthesia and atlantoaxial fixation. The weight for traction in extension was progressively increased up to 5–6 kg. The traction together with opening and distraction of C1–C2 joint can be sufficient to solve the problem. In relation to our study, we feel that odontoidectomy can be used in complicated irreducible case and in tumors affecting the axis, and in these cases, intraoperative traction should be applied after the removal of odontoid and starting from 1 to 2 kg and increase gradually until proper alignment.[29],[30],[31],[32],[33],[34],[35]

Additional point that should be taken into consideration before choosing this technique is the intraoperative variation of the anatomy in the craniovertebral junction and vertebral artery as in cases of occipitalization of the atlas.[36],[37]


   Conclusion Top


Posterior removal of the odontoid can be done safely through wide and sterile operative field and occipitocervical fixation performed at the same sitting without need for another operation and hence avoids the risk of cord injury from repositioning.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
   References Top

1.
Crockard HA. The transoral approach to the base of the brain and upper cervical cord. Ann R Coll Surg Engl 1985;67:321-5.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Dickman CA, Locantro J, Fessler RG. The influence of transoral odontoid resection on stability of the craniovertebral junction. J Neurosurg 1992;77:525-30.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Menezes AH, VanGilder JC, Graf CJ, McDonnell DE. Craniocervical abnormalities. A comprehensive surgical approach. J Neurosurg 1980;53:444-55.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Menezes AH, VanGilder JC. Transoral-transpharyngeal approach to the anterior craniocervical junction. Ten-year experience with 72 patients. J Neurosurg 1988;69:895-903.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Türe U, Pamir MN. Extreme lateral-transatlas approach for resection of the dens of the axis. J Neurosurg 2002;96 1 Suppl: 73-82.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Hall JE, Denis F, Murray J. Exposure of the upper cervical spine for spinal decompression by a mandible and tongue-splitting approach. Case report. J Bone Joint Surg Am 1977;59:121-3.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Janecka IP. Transoral-translabiomandibular approach to the craniovertebral junction. In: Dickman CA, Spetzler RF, Sonntag VH, editors. Surgery of the Craniovertebral Junction. New York: Thieme; 1998. p. 383-93.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Kanavel AB. Bullet located between the atlas and the base of the skull: Technic of removal through the mouth. Surg Clin Chic 1917;1:361-6.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Tuite GF, Veres R, Crockard HA, Sell D. Pediatric transoral surgery: Indications, complications, and long-term outcome. J Neurosurg 1996;84:573-83.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Yen YS, Chang PY, Huang WC, Wu JC, Liang ML, Tu TH, et al. Endoscopic transnasal odontoidectomy without resection of nasal turbinates: Clinical outcomes of 13 patients. J Neurosurg Spine 2014;21:929-37.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Al-Mefty O, Borba LA, Aoki N, Angtuaco E, Pait TG. The transcondylar approach to extradural nonneoplastic lesions of the craniovertebral junction. J Neurosurg 1996;84:1-6.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.
Yamaura A, Makino H, Isobe K, Takashima T, Nakamura T, Takemiya S. Repair of cerebrospinal fluid fistula following transoral transclival approach to a basilar aneurysm. Technical note. J Neurosurg 1979;50:834-8.  Back to cited text no. 12
    
13.
Arnautovic KI, Al-Mefty O, Husain M. Ventral foramen magnum meninigiomas. J Neurosurg 2000;92 1 Suppl: 71-80.  Back to cited text no. 13
    
14.
Di Lorenzo N. Craniocervical junction malformation treated by transoral approach. A survey of 25 cases with emphasis on postoperative instability and outcome. Acta Neurochir (Wien) 1992;118:112-6.  Back to cited text no. 14
    
15.
Wen HT, Rhoton AL Jr., Katsuta T, de Oliveira E. Microsurgical anatomy of the transcondylar, supracondylar, and paracondylar extensions of the far-lateral approach. J Neurosurg 1997;87:555-85.  Back to cited text no. 15
    
16.
George B, Laurian C. Surgical approach to the whole length of the vertebral artery with special reference to the third portion. Acta Neurochir (Wien) 1980;51:259-72.  Back to cited text no. 16
    
17.
Heros RC. Lateral suboccipital approach for vertebral and vertebrobasilar artery lesions. J Neurosurg 1986;64:559-62.  Back to cited text no. 17
    
18.
Sen CN, Sekhar LN. An extreme lateral approach to intradural lesions of the cervical spine and foramen magnum. Neurosurgery 1990;27:197-204.  Back to cited text no. 18
    
19.
Sen CN, Sekhar LN. Surgical management of anteriorly placed lesions at the craniocervical junction – An alternative approach. Acta Neurochir (Wien) 1991;108:70-7.  Back to cited text no. 19
    
20.
Spetzler RF, Grahm TW. The far-lateral approach to the anterior clivus and the upper cervical region. BNI Q 1990;6:35-8.  Back to cited text no. 20
    
21.
Kawashima M, Tanriover N, Rhoton AL Jr., Ulm AJ, Matsushima T. Comparison of the far lateral and extreme lateral variants of the atlanto-occipital transarticular approach to anterior extradural lesions of the craniovertebral junction. Neurosurgery 2003;53:662-74.  Back to cited text no. 21
    
22.
Babu RP, Sekhar LN, Wright DC. Extreme lateral transcondylar approach: Technical improvements and lessons learned. J Neurosurg 1994;81:49-59.  Back to cited text no. 22
    
23.
Bertalanffy H, Seeger W. The dorsolateral, suboccipital, transcondylar approach to the lower clivus and anterior portion of the craniocervical junction. Neurosurgery 1991;29:815-21.  Back to cited text no. 23
    
24.
Salas E, Sekhar LN, Ziyal IM, Caputy AJ, Wright DC. Variations of the extreme-lateral craniocervical approach: Anatomical study and clinical analysis of 69 patients. J Neurosurg 1999;90 2 Suppl: 206-19.  Back to cited text no. 24
    
25.
Spektor S, Anderson GJ, McMenomey SO, Horgan MA, Kellogg JX, Delashaw JB Jr. Quantitative description of the far-lateral transcondylar transtubercular approach to the foramen magnum and clivus. J Neurosurg 2000;92:824-31.  Back to cited text no. 25
    
26.
Song GS, Theodore N, Dickman CA, Sonntag VK. Unilateral posterior atlantoaxial transarticular screw fixation. J Neurosurg 1997;87:851-5.  Back to cited text no. 26
    
27.
Puttlitz CM, Goel VK, Traynelis VC, Clark CR. A finite element investigation of upper cervical instrumentation. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 2001;26:2449-55.  Back to cited text no. 27
    
28.
Shin H, Barrenechea IJ, Lesser J, Sen C, Perin NI. Occipitocervical fusion after resection of craniovertebral junction tumors. J Neurosurg Spine 2006;4:137-44.  Back to cited text no. 28
    
29.
Goel A, Shah A. Reversal of longstanding musculoskeletal changes in basilar invagination after surgical decompression and stabilization. J Neurosurg Spine 2009;10:220-7.  Back to cited text no. 29
    
30.
Goel A. Occipitocervical fixation: Is it necessary? J Neurosurg Spine 2010;13:1-2.  Back to cited text no. 30
    
31.
Goel A. Treatment of basilar invagination by atlantoaxial joint distraction and direct lateral mass fixation. J Neurosurg Spine 2004;1:281-6.  Back to cited text no. 31
    
32.
Goel A, Bhatjiwale M, Desai K. Basilar invagination: A study based on 190 surgically treated patients. J Neurosurg 1998;88:962-8.  Back to cited text no. 32
    
33.
Goel A, Shah A. Facetal distraction as treatment for single- and multilevel cervical spondylotic radiculopathy and myelopathy: A preliminary report. J Neurosurg Spine 2011;14:689-96.  Back to cited text no. 33
    
34.
Goel A. Craniovertebral junction instability: A review of facts about facets. Asian Spine J 2015;9:636-44.  Back to cited text no. 34
    
35.
Goel A. Instability and basilar invagination. J Craniovertebr Junction Spine 2012;3:1-2.  Back to cited text no. 35
    
36.
Kothari M, Goel A. Transatlantic odonto-occipital listhesis: The so-called basilar invagination. Neurol India 2007;55:6-7.  Back to cited text no. 36
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
37.
Cacciola F, Phalke U, Goel A. Vertebral artery in relationship to C1-C2 vertebrae: An anatomical study. Neurol India 2004;52:178-84.  Back to cited text no. 37
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  


    Figures

  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6], [Figure 7], [Figure 8]



 

Top
  
 
  Search
 
    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

 
  In this article
    Abstract
   Introduction
   Methods
   Results
   Discussion
   Conclusion
    References
    Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    Viewed2057    
    Printed23    
    Emailed0    
    PDF Downloaded17    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal