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Neurosurgery. 2011 Dec;69(2 Suppl Operative):ons184-93; discussion ons193-4. doi: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e31821bc7f9.

Sequentially staged resection and 2-column reconstruction for C2 tumors through a combined anterior retropharyngeal-posterior approach: surgical technique and results in 11 patients.

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  • 1Department of Orthopedics, Shanghai Changzheng Hospital, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, China.



Surgical treatment of C2 tumors remains challenging. Because of the deep location and unique anatomical complexity, anterior exposure in this region is considered difficult and dangerous, and few reports concerning anterior tumor resection and reconstruction exist.


To describe a technique of sequentially staged resection and 2-column reconstruction for C2 tumors through a combined anterior retropharyngeal-posterior approach.


Eleven patients with C2 tumors underwent sequentially staged tumor resection and 2-column reconstruction in our institute. Eight primary lesions and 3 metastases were involved. Tumor resections and anterior reconstructions with conventional constructs were accomplished by an anterior retropharyngeal approach, and occipitocervical fusions through posterior access were performed in the same anesthesia.


No operative mortality occurred in this series. All patients experienced pain relief and neurological improvement after surgery. Except for 1 incidence of screw pullout, which was corrected by revision surgery, solid fusion was achieved in all patients. A follow-up period of 12 to 37 months was available for this study. Two patients with chordoma relapsed; 1 died of disease, and the other was alive with disease. Two patients with metastasis died of multiple remote metastases. No evidence of local recurrence was found in the other patients.


The anterior retropharyngeal approach is a favorable route to treat tumor lesions of the C2 vertebral body that allows tumor resection and placement of anterior constructs between C1 and the subaxial vertebral body. Tumor resection and 2-column reconstruction could safely be accomplished simultaneously through the combined anterior retropharyngeal-posterior approach.

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