✓ Transoral decompression of the cervicomedullary junction may be compromised by a narrow corridor in which surgery is performed, and thus the adequacy of surgical decompression/resection may be difficult to determine. This is problematic as the presence of spinal instrumentation may obscure the accuracy of postoperative radiological assessment, or the patient may require reoperation. The authors describe three patients in whom high-field intraoperative magnetic resonance (MR) images were acquired at various stages during the transoral resection of C-2 disease that had caused craniocervical junction compression.
All three patients harbored different lesions involving the cervicomedullary junction: one each of plasmacytoma and metastatic breast carcinoma involving the odontoid process and C-2 vertebral body, and basilar invagination with a Chiari I malformation. All patients presented with progressive myelopathy. Surgical planning MR imaging studies performed after the induction of anesthesia demonstrated the lesion and its relationship to the planned surgical corridor. Transoral exposure was achieved through placement of a Crockard retractor system. In one case the soft palate was divided. Interdissection MR imaging revealed that adequate decompression had been achieved in all cases. The two patients with carcinoma required placement of posterior instrumentation for stabilization. Planned suboccipital decompression and placement of instrumentation were averted in the third case as the intraoperative MR images demonstrated that excellent decompression had been achieved.
Intraoperatively acquired MR images were instrumental in determining the adequacy of the decompressive surgery. In one of the three cases, examination of the images led the authors to change the planned surgical procedure. Importantly, the acquisition of intraoperative MR images did not adversely affect operating time or neurosurgical techniques, including instrumentation requirements.