Background: The craniovertebral junction (CVJ) is often involved in a wide range of congenital, developmental and acquired pathologies that can create bony and ligamentous instability or cause direct compression on the medulla and cervical spine cord, resulting in significant impairment. Atlas assimilation is the most common malformation in the CVJ and can be frequently associated with basilar invagination (BI) and Chiari malformation (CM) type I. Posterior atlas assimilation more frequently leads to BI type II with a mass effect on neural structures but usually no signs of biomechanical instability. Operative approaches to the CVJ have undergone a remarkable evolution and can be divided into ventral, lateral and dorsal ones. In this kind of surgery, it is vital to detect and eventually treat any CVJ instability.
Case Description: We present a case of CVJ malformation comprising assimilation of the posterior arch of the atlas, BI type II and CM, treated by endoscopic endonasal odontoidectomy and partial clivus removal to spare CVJ stability.
Conclusion: Neurological and biomechanical analysis of all CVJ malformations permits stratification and selection of those cases that can be managed by simple, direct, minimally invasive decompression with no need for surgical fusion.
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