The occipital condyle: a micro anatomical study and its surgical relevance


Journal Article

Introduction: The importance of the atlanto-occipital joint is often neglected. The anatomical relationships of the occipital condyle are critical for craniovertebral junction, posterior fossa, and the far lateral surgical exposures. Material and Methods: Five cadaver heads with siliconeinjected vasculature were dissected. Far lateral exposures were performed bilaterally. Attention was focused on the region of the occipital condyle, including dimensions; bony relations with the atlas; relations with the vertebral artery and surrounding venous plexus; and neural relations, including the hypoglossal nerve. Stages of the dissections were recorded with stereoscopic (3D) photography. Results: The occipital condyle presents variations in size; its position overshadows the content of the antero-lateral margin of the foramen magnum. Extradural removal of the occipital condyle provides a wider exposure of the antero-lateral region of the foramen magnum. The variable position of the hypoglossal nerve is crucial to the integrity of the occipital condyle. The occipital condyle provides a potential bony anchorage for occipitocervical screw fixation. Conclusions: Removal of the occipital condyle provides extra space when accessing the antero-lateral margin of the foramen magnum. 3D photography allowed for the reexamination and study of the anatomical relationships in a more thorough and accurate manner. Further anatomical exploration may indicate the biomechanical efficacy of occipitocervical fixation that includes the occipital condyle in the construction.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Gonzalez, F; Ferreira, MA; Deshmukh, P; Zabramski, JM; Preul, MC; Spetzler, RF

Published Date

  • January 1, 2001

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 11 / SUPPL. 1

Start / End Page

  • 19 -

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1531-5010

Citation Source

  • Scopus