Pasquale De Bonis, Antonio Musio, Giorgio Mantovani, Angelo Pompucci, Jacopo Visani, Giorgio Lofrese, Alba Scerrati

July 2020, pp 1 - 6 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-020-06521-5

First Online: 09 July 2020


In this paper, we propose a simplified four-step retropharyngeal approach, whose aim is getting straight to the upper cervical spine minimizing complications.


While the classical retropharyngeal approach includes about 11 steps, ours is a four-step approach: patient positioning, skin-platysma incision, hyoid bone superolateral dissection and retropharyngeal blunt exposure. We avoid several steps of the classical anterior retropharyngeal approach, particularly dissection of submandibular gland, facial veins, external carotid artery and thyroid artery, bellies of the digastric muscle, hypoglossal nerve, thyrohyoid membrane and the internal branch of superior laryngeal nerve.


We have adopted this technique for five patients: two patients had a C2–C3 herniated disk with myelopathy, two patients had unstable Hangman fracture with no bone fusion after 2-month treatment with rigid collar, and one patient had a C2–C3 osteophyte with dysphagia. The intraoperative time needed for reaching the retropharyngeal space was 15 (first case), 9 (second case), 7 min (third case—illustrative case—and fourth case), 8 min (fifth case). No complications occurred.


Our simplification, avoiding several steps, is simple, effective, safe, and rapid and requires a simple learning curve.

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