Although direct transoral decompression and one-stage posterior instrumentation can obtain satisfactory cord decompression for the treatment of basilar invagination with atlantoaxial dislocation, surgical injuries run high as combinative anterior-posterior approaches were necessary. Furthermore, the complications will rise notably when involvement of dens and/or clivus in the decompression necessitates relatively complicated surgical techniques. First initiated in 2005, transoral atlantoaxial reduction plate (TARP) works as an internal fixation for the treatment of basilar invagination with irreducible atlantoaxial dislocation. Therefore, this article aimed to describe several operative experiences about this approach, which has delivered successful decompression, fixation and fusion.
21 consecutive patients with basilar invagination underwent the TARP operation. The pre- and postoperative medulla-cervical angles were measured and compared. The JOA scores of spinal cord function were calculated pre- and post-operatively. 20 cases (20/21) were followed up to average 12.5 months.
Symptoms of all the 20 cases were relieved in different degrees. The postoperative imaging showed the odontoid processes obtained ideal reduction and the internal fixators were all in good position. The medulla-cervical angle was correctd from an average (± standard deviation) 128.7° + 11.9° (n = 20) before surgery to 156.5° + 8.1° (n = 20) after surgery (P < 0.01). The average preoperative and postoperative Japaneses Orthopedic Association scores were 11.25 (n = 20) and 15.9 (n = 20), respectively, indicating 76 % improvement. Screw-loosening was observed in one patient due to severe osteoporosis. After a revised operation with a TARP in another size, the neurological symptoms showed no obvious improvements. Then the treatment was terminated.
The TARP operation and intra-operative traction could reduce the odontoid process superiorly migrating into the foramen magnum, directly ease the ventral compression of spinal cord, and fix the reduced atlantoaxial joints through a single transoral approach without the need of a posterior operation. In this stury, 21 patients were evaluated and 20 did well with TARP operation. The preliminary clinical result was satisfactory.