Occipitocervical fusion after resection of craniovertebral junction tumors

Hyunchul Shin M.D.1, Ignacio J. Barrenechea M.D.1, Jonathan Lesser M.D.1, Chandranath Sen M.D.1, and Noel I. Perin M.D. F.R.C.S.(E)1
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  • 1 Departments of Neurosurgery and Anesthesiology, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, New York, New York
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Object

Surgical access to tumors at the craniovertebral junction (CVJ) requires extensive bone removal. Guidelines for the use of occipitocervical fusion (OCF) after resection of CVJ tumors have been based on anecdotal evidence. The authors performed a retrospective study of factors associated with the use of OCF in 46 patients with CVJ tumors. The findings were used to develop recommendations for use of OCF in such patients.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed the cases of 51 patients with CVJ tumors treated by their group between March 1991 and February 2004. Forty-six patients were available for follow up. Charts were reviewed to obtain data on demographic characteristics, presenting symptoms, and perioperative complications. Preoperative computerized tomography scans and magnetic resonance imaging studies were obtained in all patients. Occipitocervical fusion was performed in patients who had undergone a unilateral condyle resection in which 70% or more of the condyle was removed, a bilateral condyle resection with 50% removal, or C1–2 vertebral body destruction. Of the 46 patients, 16 had foramen magnum meningiomas, 17 had chordomas, one had a chondrosarcoma, two had Schwann cell tumors, two had glomus tumors, and eight had other types of tumors. Twenty-three (50%) of the 46 patients underwent OCF, including 15 of the 17 patients with chordomas (88%). None of the patients with meningiomas required fusion. Seventeen (71%) of the 24 patients presenting with neck pain preoperatively underwent OCF.

Conclusions

Patients presenting with neck pain had a 71% chance of undergoing OCF. Patients with chordomas and metastatic tumors were most likely to require OCF. One patient with a 50% unilateral condylar resection returned with OC instability for which OCF was required. Based on their clinical experience and published biomechanical studies, the authors recommend that OCF be performed when 50% or more of one condyle is resected.

Abbreviations used in this paper:

ACTH = adrenocorticotropic hormone; CT = computerized tomography; CVJ = craniovertebral junction; OC = occipitocervical; OCF = OC fusion; OCJ = OC junction; VA = vertebral artery.

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Contributor Notes

Address reprint requests to: Noel I. Perin, M.D., F.R.C.S.(E), Department of Neurosurgery, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, 1000 10th Avenue, Suite 5G-80, New York, New York 10019. email: nperin@chpnet.org.
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