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  • Author or Editor: L. Fernando Gonzalez x
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L. Fernando Gonzalez, Sepideh Amin-Hanjani, Nicholas C. Bambakidis and Robert F. Spetzler

Posterior circulation lesions constitute approximately 10% of all intracranial aneurysms. Their distribution includes the basilar artery (BA) bifurcation, superior cerebellar artery, posterior inferior cerebellar artery, and anterior inferior cerebellar artery. The specific features of a patient's aneurysm and superb anatomical knowledge help the surgeon to choose the most appropriate approach and to tailor it to the patient's situation. The main principle that must be applied is maximization of bone resection. This allows the surgeon to work within a wider corridor, which facilitates the use of surgical instruments and minimizes retraction of the brain.

The management of aneurysms within the posterior circulation requires expertise in skull base and vascular surgery. Endovascular treatments have become increasingly important, but in this paper the authors focus on the surgical management of these difficult aneurysms. The paper is divided into three parts: the first section is a brief review of the anatomy of the BA; the second part is a review of the techniques associated with the management of posterior fossa aneurysms; and in the third section the authors describe the different approaches, their nuances and indications based on the location of the aneurysm, and its relationship to the surrounding bone (especially the clivus, dorsum sellae, and the free edge of the petrous apex).

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Nicholas C. Bambakidis, L. Fernando Gonzalez, Sepideh Amin-Hanjani, Vivek R. Deshmukh, Randall W. Porter, Philip C. Daspit and Robert F. Spetzler

Combined approaches to the skull base provide maximal exposure of the complex and eloquent anatomical structures contained within the posterior fossa. Common to these combined exposures are variable degrees of petrous bone removal. Understanding the advantages of each approach is critical when attempting to balance increases in operative exposure against the risk of potential complications. Despite their risks, aggressive combined exposures to the posterior fossa enable the greatest degree of visualization of the anatomy. Consequently, surgeons can approach lesions with maximal margins of safety, which cannot otherwise be realized. To minimize morbidity in all cases, the approach chosen must be applied individually, depending on the lesion and the patient's characteristics.

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Nicholas C. Bambakidis, Iman Feiz-Erfan, Eric M. Horn, L. Fernando Gonzalez, Seungwon Baek, K. Zafer Yüksel, Anna G. U. Brantley, Volker K. H. Sonntag and Neil R. Crawford


The stability provided by 3 occipitoatlantal fixation techniques (occiput [Oc]–C1 transarticular screws, occipital keel screws rigidly interconnected with C-1 lateral mass screws, and suboccipital/sublaminar wired contoured rod) were compared.


Seven human cadaveric specimens received transarticular screws and 7 received occipital keel–C1 lateral mass screws. All specimens later underwent contoured rod fixation. All conditions were studied with and without placement of a structural graft wired between the skull base and C-1 lamina. Specimens were loaded quasistatically using pure moments to induce flexion, extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation while recording segmental motion optoelectronically. Flexibility was measured immediately postoperatively and after 10,000 cycles of fatigue.


Application of Oc–C1 transarticular screws, with a wired graft, reduced the mean range of motion (ROM) to 3% of normal. Occipital keel–C1 lateral mass screws (also with graft) offered less stability than transarticular screws during extension and lateral bending (p < 0.02), reducing ROM to 17% of normal. The wired contoured rod reduced motion to 31% of normal, providing significantly less stability than either screw fixation technique. Fatigue increased motion in constructs fitted with transarticular screws, keel screws/lateral mass screw constructs, and contoured wired rods, by means of 19, 5, and 26%, respectively. In all constructs, adding a structural graft significantly improved stability, but the extent depended on the loading direction.


Assuming the presence of mild C1–2 instability, Oc–C1 transarticular screws and occipital keel–C1 lateral mass screws are approximately equivalent in performance for occipitoatlantal stabilization in promoting fusion. A posteriorly wired contoured rod is less likely to provide a good fusion environment because of less stabilizing potential and a greater likelihood of loosening with fatigue.