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World Neurosurg. 2011 Jul-Aug;76(1-2):183-8; discussion 74-8. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2011.02.018.

The importance of platybasia and the palatine line in patient selection for endonasal surgery of the craniocervical junction: a radiographic study of 12 patients.

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Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA.



Ventral decompressive surgery of the craniocervical junction is performed to manage a variety of conditions, including basilar invagination, which can be associated with platybasia. We have noted that the anatomic changes of platybasia could affect the height of the odontoid over a line drawn along the nasal cavity floor, the palatine line (PL). This anatomic change may influence the use of nasal endoscopic surgery for patients with platybasia who also have basilar invagination. We investigated whether the height of the craniocervical junction is elevated over the PL in patients with and without platybasia.


We conducted a retrospective review of consecutive craniovertebral junction surgical cases during a 14-month period. During that time we treated 12 patients, including 4 with platybasia and 8 without. The average age was 50 years (range, 18-64 years). Preoperative and postoperative radiographic images were evaluated and charts reviewed.


The mean height of the odontoid over the PL without platybasia was 3.5 mm (range, 0-19.0 mm). In those with platybasia, it was 15.5 mm (range, 7-26.0 mm; P=.021). There was a statistically significant increase in the height of the clival tip and C1 ring in patient with platybasia as well.


Platybasia is associated with an increase in the odontoid and craniocervical junction over the PL. This increase in height has implications for endoscopic approach selection in patients with platybasia. Platybasia patients with basilar invagination may be better suited to a transnasal approach.

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