The rhinopalatine line as a reliable predictor of the inferior extent of endonasal odontoidectomies

Neurosurg Focus. 2015 Apr;38(4):E16. doi: 10.3171/2015.1.FOCUS14777.


Object: The endoscopic endonasal approach (EEA) provides a minimally invasive corridor through which the cervicomedullary junction can be decompressed with reduced morbidity rates compared to those with the classic transoral approaches. The limit of the EEA is its inferior extent, and preoperative estimation of its reach is vital for determining its suitability. The aim of this study was to evaluate the actual inferior limit of the EEA in a surgical series of patients and develop an accurate and reliable predictor that can be used in planning endonasal odontoidectomies.

Methods: The actual inferior extent of surgery was determined in a series of 6 patients with adequate preoperative and postoperative imaging who underwent endoscopie endonasal odontoidectomy. The medians of the differences between several previously described predictive lines, namely the nasopalatine line (NPL) and nasoaxial line (NAxL), were compared with the actual surgical limit and the hard-palate line by using nonparametric statistics. A novel line, called the rhinopalatine line (RPL), was established and corresponded best with the actual limit of the surgery.

Results: There were 4 adult and 2 pediatric patients included in this study. The NPL overestimated the inferior extent of the surgery by an average (± SD) of 21.9 ± 8.1 mm (range 14.7-32.5 mm). The NAxL and RPL overestimated the inferior limit of surgery by averages of 6.9 ± 3.8 mm (range 3.7-13.3 mm) and 1.7 ± 3.7 mm (range -2.8 to 8.3 mm), respectively. The medians of the differences between the NPL and NAxL and the actual surgery were statistically different (both p = 0.0313). In contrast, there was no statistically significant difference between the RPL and the inferior limit of surgery (p = 0.4375).

Conclusions: The RPL predicted the inferior limit of the EEA to the craniovertebral junction more accurately than previously described lines. The use of the RPL may help surgeons in choosing suitable candidates for the EEA and in selecting those for whom surgery through the oropharynx or the facial bones is the better approach.

Keywords: CMJ = cervicomedullary junction; CVJ = craniovertebral junction; EEA = endoscopie endonasal approach; ETA = endoscopie transoral approach; HPL = hard-palate line; NAxL = nasoaxial line; NPL = nasopalatine line; RPL = rhinopalatine line; craniovertebral junction; endoscopy; minimally invasive spine surgery; odontoidectomy; rhinopalatine line; skull base surgery; transnasal.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aged
  • Atlanto-Axial Joint / surgery*
  • Child
  • Decompression, Surgical*
  • Endoscopy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nose / surgery*
  • Odontoid Process
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography Scanners, X-Ray Computed
  • Young Adult