Object. The author discusses the successful preliminary experience of treating selected cases of basilar invagination by performing atlantoaxial joint distraction, reduction of the basilar invagination, and direct lateral mass atlantoaxial plate/screw fixation.
Methods. Twenty-two patients with basilar invagination—in which the odontoid process invaginated into the foramen magnum and the tip of the odontoid process was above the Chamberlain, McRae foramen magnum, and Wackenheim clival lines—were selected to undergo surgery. In all patients fixed atlantoaxial dislocations were documented.
The 16 male and six female patients ranged in age from 8 to 50 years. A history of trauma prior to the onset of symptoms was documented in 17 patients. Following surgery, the author observed minimal-to-significant reduction of basilar invagination and alteration in other craniospinal parameters resulting in restoration of alignment of the tip of the odontoid process and the clivus and the entire craniovertebral junction in all patients. In addition to neurological and radiological improvement, preoperative symptoms of torticollis resolved significantly in all patients. The minimum follow-up period was 12 months and the mean was 28 months.
Conclusions. Joint distraction and firm lateral mass fixation in selected cases of basilar invagination is a reasonable surgical treatment for reducing the basilar invagination, restoring craniospinal alignment, and establishing fixation of the atlantoaxial joint.