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J Neurosurg Spine. 2016 Dec;25(6):740-744. Epub 2016 Jul 1.

Three-dimensional models: an emerging investigational revolution for craniovertebral junction surgery.

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Department of Neurosurgery, K.E.M. Hospital and Seth G.S. Medical College.
Lilavati Hospital and Research Centre; and.
Jankharia Imaging Center, Mumbai, India.


Complex craniovertebral junctional anomalies can be daunting to treat surgically, and preoperative information regarding the osseous abnormalities, course of the vertebral arteries, size of the pedicles, and location of the transverse foramina is invaluable to surgeons operating on these challenging cases. The authors present their experience with the emerging technology of 3D model acquisition for surgery in 11 cases of complex craniovertebral junction region anomalies. For each case, a 3D printed model was made from thin CT scans using a 64-slice CT scanner. The inclination of the joints, the presence of false articulations, the size of the pedicles, and the course of the vertebral arteries were studied preoperatively on the 3D models. The sizes of the plates and screws to be used and the angle of insertion of the screws were calculated based on the data from the models. The model was scaled to actual size and was kept beside the operating surgeon in its anatomical position during surgery. The potential uses of the models and their advantages over conventional radiological investigations are discussed. The authors conclude that 3D models can be an invaluable aid during surgery for complex craniovertebral junction anomalies. The information available from a real life-size model supersedes the information available from 3D CT reconstructions and can also be superior to virtual simulation. The models are both cost effective and easy to build and the authors suggest that they may form the basis of investigations in the near future for craniovertebral junction surgery.


3D printing; atlantoaxial instability; basilar invagination; craniovertebral junction; technique

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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