Anterolateral approach to the craniocervical junction.

Emiliano Passacantilli, Antonio Santoro, Angelo Pichierri, Roberto Delfini, Giampaolo Cantore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECT: The authors present the surgical results obtained using the anterolateral approach to the craniocervical junction (CCJ) to resect a lesion with an extradural component located anterolateral to the foramen magnum and upper cervical spine. METHODS: The anterolateral approach, which is a presternomastoid retrojugular route to the CCJ, was performed in 14 patients. The skin incision follows the anterior edge of the sternomastoid muscle. The vertebral artery (VA) was exposed at C-1. This approach was extended either down to the cervical spine or anteriorly to the jugular foramen, according to specific requirements. Two patients had previously undergone other surgical procedures. The follow-up period ranged from 4 months to 6.2 years. The tumor resection was complete in 11 cases and subtotal in two. In a case of vertebral coiling, a vein graft was interposed between the V1 and the V3 segments of the VA, and the bypass was still patent at the 2-year follow-up examination. In two cases involving a glomus tumor, there was a transitory postoperative seventh cranial nerve deficit. CONCLUSIONS: The aforementioned technique allows for sufficient access to lesions located anterolateral to the CCJ. It is indicated in cases in which lesions exhibit a significant extradural component, and it provides good control of the VA, the cervical portion of the internal carotid artery, sigmoid-jugular complex, and lower cranial nerves. This approach can easily be combined with a posterolateral approach and can be extended anteriorly toward the jugular foramen and inferiorly toward the lower cervical spine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-128
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Spine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery
  • Neurology


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