JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Surgical approach for hypoglossal schwannomas to prevent deformity of the atlanto-occipital joint.

BACKGROUND: Hypoglossal schwannomas are very rare tumors that often enlarge the hypoglossal canal and jugular foramen, and erode the bone bridge of the occipital condyle. We compared pre- and postoperative 3D bone CT images and discussed the ideal craniotomy to prevent fracture formation.

METHOD: Seven patients with hypoglossal schwannomas underwent surgery in our department. Six cases were type B and 1 case was type C. All patients complained of hypoglossal nerve paresis and nuchal pain.

FINDINGS: We used the condylar fossa approach for four cases of type B, the lateral suboccipital approach with C1 laminectomy for two cases of type B and extradural transjugular approach for one case of type C. In all cases, the lateral rim of the foramen magnum or the posterior rim of the jugular foramen was not resected at the same time. The intracranial part of the tumor was removed in all type B cases. Radiotherapy was added for the residual tumor. No patient had deformity or fracture of the joint.

CONCLUSIONS: Opening the hypoglossal canal and dural incision toward the hypoglossal canal are important for high radicality. However, preservation of the lateral rim of the foramen magnum must be noted to prevent consecutive deformity or fracture of the atlanto-occipital joint.

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