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Ali M. Elhadi, Samuel Kalb, Luis Perez-Orribo, Andrew S. Little, Robert F. Spetzler and Mark C. Preul

The field of anatomy, one of the most ancient sciences, first evolved in Egypt. From the Early Dynastic Period (3100 bc) until the time of Galen at the end of the 2nd century ad, Egypt was the center of anatomical knowledge, including neuroanatomy. Knowledge of neuroanatomy first became important so that sacred rituals could be performed by ancient Egyptian embalmers during mummification procedures. Later, neuroanatomy became a science to be studied by wise men at the ancient temple of Memphis. As religious conflicts developed, the study of the human body became restricted. Myths started to replace scientific research, squelching further exploration of the human body until Alexander the Great founded the city of Alexandria. This period witnessed a revolution in the study of anatomy and functional anatomy. Herophilus of Chalcedon, Erasistratus of Chios, Rufus of Ephesus, and Galen of Pergamon were prominent physicians who studied at the medical school of Alexandria and contributed greatly to knowledge about the anatomy of the skull base. After the Royal Library of Alexandria was burned and laws were passed prohibiting human dissections based on religious and cultural factors, knowledge of human skull base anatomy plateaued for almost 1500 years. In this article the authors consider the beginning of this journey, from the earliest descriptions of skull base anatomy to the establishment of basic skull base anatomy in ancient Egypt.

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George A. C. Mendes, Curtis A. Dickman, Nestor G. Rodriguez-Martinez, Samuel Kalb, Neil R. Crawford, Volker K. H. Sonntag, Mark C. Preul and Andrew S. Little

OBJECT

The primary disadvantage of the posterior cervical approach for atlantoaxial stabilization after odontoidectomy is that it is conducted as a second-stage procedure. The goal of the current study is to assess the surgical feasibility and biomechanical performance of an endoscopic endonasal surgical technique for C1–2 fixation that may eliminate the need for posterior fixation after odontoidectomy.

METHODS

The first step of the study was to perform endoscopic endonasal anatomical dissections of the craniovertebral junction in 10 silicone-injected fixed cadaveric heads to identify relevant anatomical landmarks. The second step was to perform a quantitative analysis using customized software in 10 reconstructed adult cervical spine CT scans to identify the optimal screw entry point and trajectory. The third step was biomechanical flexibility testing of the construct and comparison with the posterior C1–2 transarticular fixation in 14 human cadaveric specimens.

RESULTS

Adequate surgical exposure and identification of the key anatomical landmarks, such as C1–2 lateral masses, the C-1 anterior arch, and the odontoid process, were provided by the endonasal endoscopic approach in all specimens. Radiological analysis of anatomical detail suggested that the optimal screw entry point was on the anterior aspect of the C-1 lateral mass near the midpoint, and the screw trajectory was inferiorly and slightly laterally directed. The custommade angled instrumentation was crucial for screw placement. Biomechanical analysis suggested that anterior C1–2 fixation compared favorably to posterior fixation by limiting flexion-extension, axial rotation, and lateral bending (p > 0.3).

CONCLUSIONS

This is the first study that demonstrates the feasibility of an endoscopic endonasal technique for C1–2 fusion. This novel technique may have clinical utility by eliminating the need for a second-stage posterior fixation operation in certain patients undergoing odontoidectomy.

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Paul A. Gardner, Juan C. Fernandez-Miranda, Carl H. Snyderman and Eric W. Wang