The goal of this study was to compare the indications, benefits, and complications between the endoscopic endonasal approach (EEA) and the microscopic transoral approach to perform an odontoidectomy. Transoral approaches have been standard for odontoidectomy procedures; however, the potential benefits of the EEA might be demonstrated to be a more innocuous technique. The authors present their experience with 12 consecutive cases that required odontoidectomy and posterior instrumentation.
Twelve consecutive cases of craniovertebral junction instability with or without basilar invagination were diagnosed at the National Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery in Mexico City, Mexico, between January 2009 and January 2013. The EEA was used for 5 cases in which the odontoid process was above the nasopalatine line, and was compared with 7 cases in which the odontoid process was beneath the nasopalatine line; these were treated using the transoral microscopic approach (TMA). Odontoidectomy was performed after occipital-cervical or cervical posterior augmentation with lateral mass and translaminar screws. One case was previously fused (Oc–C4 fusion). The senior author performed all surgeries. American Spinal Injury Association scores were documented before surgical treatment and after at least 6 months of follow-up.
Neurological improvement after odontoidectomy was similar for both groups. From the transoral group, 2 patients had postoperative dysphonia, 1 patient presented with dysphagia, and 1 patient had intraoperative CSF leakage. The endoscopic procedure required longer surgical time, less time to extubation and oral feeding, a shorter hospital stay, and no complications in this series.
Endoscopic endonasal odontoidectomy is a feasible, safe, and well-tolerated procedure. In this small series there was no difference in the outcome between the EEA and the TMA; however, fewer complications were documented with the endonasal technique.