Transdural approach to resection of retro-odontoid cysts in elderly patients: Report of 3 cases

Karthik Madhavan, Lee Onn Chieng, Brandon G. Gaynor, Allan D. Levi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Retro-odontoid cysts that arise from the tectorial membrane are uncommon lesions that can occur in elderly patients. They arise secondary to degenerative changes, including calcium pyrophosphate deposition within the ligaments. Surgical treatment is indicated when these lesions result in intractable pain, instability, and/or myelopathy. Several surgical techniques to treat this condition exist, but the optimal approach in elderly patients with comorbidities remains controversial. Here, the authors present a case series of 3 patients who underwent successful resection of a retro-odontoid lesion performed through a transdural approach. The patients were 70, 81, and 74 years old and presented with symptoms of cervical myelopathy. In consideration of their advanced age and the location of their lesion, resection via a posterior approach was considered. A 1-to 2-cm suboccipital craniectomy and C-1 and partial C-2 laminectomy were performed. These lesions could not be accessed via an extradural posterolateral approach, and so a transdural approach was performed. In the first 2 patients, a preexisting deformity prompted an instrumented fusion. In the third patient, only a lesion resection was performed. In each case, the dural opening was made using a paramedian ipsilateral-sided incision, and the lesion was resected through an incision in the anterior dura mater. Only the posterior dura was closed primarily. MR imaging evidence of excellent spinal cord decompression was evident in follow-up examinations. Transdural resection of retro-odontoid cysts is a viable option for treating asymmetrical ventral extradural cysts. Results from this case series suggest that such an approach is safe and feasible and can provide an alternative to open or endoscopic anterior transpharyngeal approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)236-243
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Spine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • Cervical
  • Elderly
  • Retro-odontoid
  • Surgical technique
  • Transdural

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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