Craniovertebral Junction Surgeries

Craniovertebral junction surgery may be used to treat disorders or deformities of the upper neck that are present at birth or occur later in life. Craniovertebral disorders can result in progressive deformity, myelopathy, severe neck pain, and functional disability, such as difficulty swallowing.

Depending upon your causative factors, your doctor may use different approaches to reach your vertebrae. The primary goals of surgical intervention are decompression of neural structures, spinal realignment, and stabilization.

Indications of craniovertebral junction

Craniovertebral junction surgeries may be indicated for a number of medical conditions including:

  • Malalignment of craniovertebral junction
  • Congenital anomaly of craniovertebral junction
  • Infections
  • Trauma 
  • Hindbrain herniation
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Paget’s disease
  • Tumours of the craniovertebral junction
  • Injuries to the ligaments
  • Atlas hypoplasia
  • Basilar invagination
  • Achondroplasia
  • Down syndrome
  • Osteogenesis imperfecta

Many important structures pass through the area of the craniovertebral junction, such as the brain stem, nerves and blood vessels. Surgical treatment is usually required in patients presenting severe pain, functional disability, or myelopathy.

Minimally Invasive craniovertebral junction procedure

Corrective surgery is usually performed by neurosurgeon, after an appropriate approach and methodology are determined. To perform this type of you are put to sleep using under general anaesthesia, so that you don’t experience any pain during the procedure.

Depending on the exact area to be treated, different approaches may be used, such as – through the nose, the mouth, the chin, the side of the neck or the nape of the neck. Accordingly, the muscles are pulled back to reveal the area to be operated. The surgeon then makes the necessary correction and stabilises the corrected area with rods, plates and screws. Once satisfied with the outcome and stability, the muscles are put back in place by the surgeon. Finally, the incision is closed and dressed, as appropriate.

Postoperative patient-care

It is normal to experience slight pain around the incision area following your surgery. This usually fades in a few days or can be alleviated using pain medication prescribed by your surgeon. In order for healing to occur properly, you may be instructed to limit neck movement or to wear a hard cervical collar for a few weeks to months post-surgery.


Over time, your original symptoms will go away, and you will regain neck mobility. You may return to work after adequate rest and approval from your doctor.


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