Periodontoid calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate deposition disease: "pseudogout" mass lesions of the craniocervical junction

J Neurosurg. 1996 Nov;85(5):803-9. doi: 10.3171/jns.1996.85.5.0803.


Between 1984 and 1996, seven patients with symptomatic masses located posterior to the odontoid process and containing calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate crystals were evaluated by the senior author (A.H.M). All patients presented with distal paresthesias and myelopathy and underwent transoral-transpharyngeal resection of the anterior arch of C-I, the odontoid process, and the compressing mass. Histological examination revealed the characteristic changes of calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate (CPPD) deposition disease, with nodular deposits of birefringent rhomboid crystals. On magnetic resonance imaging, the masses appeared predominantly isointense with neural tissue on T1-weighted images and iso-to hyperintense on T2-weighted images. On computerized tomography scans, small area of calcifications within the masses were apparent in all cases. All patients improved postoperatively, with six of seven patients requiring posterior fixation for instability as a second procedure. Calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate deposition causing periodontoid mass lesions is a distinct clinical disease entity that probably is underdiagnosed. In the authors' l opinion, the diagnosis can often be established preoperatively by the distinctive neuroradiological appearance of the masses. Therefore, CPPD deposition disease should be considered in the differential diagnosis of masses of the craniocervical junction, because it is amenable to early surgical intervention. The consulting neuropathologist should be made aware of this diagnostic possibility at the time of surgery.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cervical Vertebrae / pathology*
  • Chondrocalcinosis / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Prognosis