C1–C2 arthrodesis after transoral odontoidectomy and suboccipital craniectomy for ventral brain stem compression in Chiari I patients


Chiari I malformations are often associated with congenital craniocervical anomalies such as platybasia, basilar invagination, and retroflexion of the odontoid process. Management of ventral brain stem compression associated with Chiari I malformations remains controversial, but several authors report a significant rate of failure with suboccipital decompression alone in the presence of pronounced ventral brain stem compression (VBSC). Treatment options described in the literature for these patients involve anterior, posterior, or combined decompressions with or without concurrent arthrodesis. A combined anterior and posterior approach provides a definitive circumferential decompression but also significantly disrupts the stability of the occipitocervical junction usually necessitating occipitocervical fixation. We describe an alternative surgical treatment for Chiari I patients with significant ventral brain stem compression where a combined anterior and posterior decompression was considered necessary. We report two patients who underwent transoral odontoidectomy with preservation of the anterior arch of the atlas and suboccipital craniectomy with C1 laminectomy followed by C1–C2 arthrodesis. Preservation of the anterior arch of the atlas in conjunction with C1–C2 arthrodesis stabilizes the occipito–atlanto-axial segments while conserving more cervical mobility as compared to an occipitocervical fusion.

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Correspondence to Steven W. Hwang.

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Hwang, S.W., Heilman, C.B., Riesenburger, R.I. et al. C1–C2 arthrodesis after transoral odontoidectomy and suboccipital craniectomy for ventral brain stem compression in Chiari I patients. Eur Spine J 17, 1211–1217 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00586-008-0706-x

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  • Chiari malformation
  • Ventral brain stem compression
  • Spinal fusion
  • Transoral odontoidectomy
  • Atlanto-axial joint