Federica Penner, Raffaele De Marco, Giuseppe Di Perna, Irene Portonero, Bianca Baldassarre, Diego Garbossa, Francesco Zenga

July 2022, pp 1 - 11 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-022-07308-6

First Online: 20 July 2022


Endoscopic endonasal odontoidectomy (EEO) has been described as a potential approach for craniovertebral junction (CVJ) disease which could cause anterior bulbomedullary compression and encroaching. Due to the atlantoaxial junction’s uniqueness and complex biomechanics, treating CVJ pathologies uncovers the challenge of preventing C1–C2 instability. A large series of patients treated with endonasal odontoidectomy is reported, analyzing the feasibility and necessity of whether or not to perform posterior stabilization. Furthermore, the focus is on the long-term follow-up, especially those whom only underwent partial C1 arch preservation without posterior fixation.


This study is a retrospective analysis of patients with ventral spinal cord compression for non-reducible CVJ malformation, consecutively treated with EEO from July 2011 to March 2019. Postoperative dynamic X-ray and CT scans were obtained in each case in order to document CVJ decompression as well as to exclude instability. The anterior atlas‐dens interval, posterior atlas‐dens interval and C1–C2 total lateral overhang were measured as a morphological criteria to determine upper cervical spine stability.


Twenty-one patients (11:10 F:M) with a mean age of 60.6 years old at the time of surgery (range 34–84 years) encountered the inclusion criteria. For all 21 patients, a successful decompression was achieved at the first surgery. In 11 patients, the partial C1 arch integrity did not require a posterior cervical instrumentation on the bases of postoperative and constant follow-up radiological examination. In 13 cases, an improvement of motor function was recorded at the time of discharge. Only one patient had further motor function improvement at follow-up. Among the patients that did not show any significant motor change at discharge, 4 patients showed an improvement at the last follow-up.


The outcomes, even in C1 arch preservation without posterior fixation, are promising, and it could be said that the endonasal route potentially represents a valid option to treat lesions above the nasopalatine line.

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