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Neurosurgery. 2003 Sep;53(3):662-74; discussion 674-5.

Comparison of the far lateral and extreme lateral variants of the atlanto-occipital transarticular approach to anterior extradural lesions of the craniovertebral junction.

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  • 1Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Managing lesions situated in the anterior aspect of the craniovertebral junction (CVJ) remains a challenging neurosurgical problem. The purposes of this study were to examine the microsurgical anatomy of the anterior extradural aspect of the CVJ and the differences in the exposure obtained by the far lateral and extreme lateral atlanto-occipital transarticular approaches. The far lateral approach, as originally described, is a lateral suboccipital approach directed behind the sternocleidomastoid muscle and the vertebral artery and just medial to the occipital and atlantal condyles and the atlanto-occipital joint. The extreme lateral approach, as originally described, is a direct lateral approach deep to the anterior part of the sternocleidomastoid muscle and behind the internal jugular vein along the front of the vertebral artery. Both approaches permit drilling of the condyles at the atlanto-occipital joint but provide a different exposure because of the differences in the direction of the approach.

METHODS:

Fifteen adult cadaveric specimens were studied using a magnification of x3 to x40 after perfusion of the arteries and veins with colored silicone. The microsurgical anatomy of the extradural aspects of the CVJ and the two atlanto-occipital transarticular approaches were examined in stepwise dissections.

RESULTS:

The far lateral atlanto-occipital transarticular approach provides excellent exposure of the extradural lesions located in the ipsilateral anterior and anterolateral aspects of the extradural region of the CVJ. The extreme lateral atlanto-occipital transarticular approach provides excellent exposure, not only on the side of the exposure, but also extending across the midline to the medial aspect of the contralateral atlanto-occipital joint and the lower clivus.

CONCLUSION:

The far lateral and extreme lateral variants of the atlanto-occipital transarticular approach provide an alternative to the transoral approach to the anterior extradural structures at the CVJ. Compared with the transoral approach, both approaches provide a shorter operative route, avoid the contaminated nasopharynx, reduce the incidence of cerebrospinal fluid leak, and are not limited laterally by the atlanto-occipital joint.

PMID:
12943582
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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