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Radiographic Risk Factors and Surgical Outcomes for Retroodontoid Pseudotumors

Sono, Takashi MD; Onishi, Eijiro MD, PhD; Matsushita, Mutsumi MD, PhD

Journal of Spinal Disorders & Techniques:
doi: 10.1097/BSD.0b013e318299f4d8
Original Articles

Study Design: Retrospective review.

Objective: The aim of this study is to assess the radiographic characteristics of patients with a retroodontoid pseudotumor and to evaluate the efficacy of posterior fusion.

Summary of Background Data: Retroodontoid pseudotumors are usually caused by chronic atlantoaxial instability in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, the pathomechanism and optimum treatment are unknown.

Methods: We reviewed the charts and radiographs of 11 patients (5 RA and 6 non-RA) with a retroodontoid pseudotumor who underwent posterior fusion. Preoperative radiographs were evaluated for atlantodental interval; Redlund-Johnell criterion; O–C1, C1–2, C2–3, and C2–7 angles. The Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) score was used to evaluate clinical outcomes.

Results: All RA patients and 1 non-RA patient displayed atlantoaxial subluxation. Three patients underwent occipitocervical fusion and 8 patients atlantoaxial fusion. The JOA score improved significantly from 10.0 to 12.8 at follow-up (P<0.01). The retroodontoid pseudotumor regressed in 10 patients. Maximal thickness of the pseudotumor decreased from 8.9 mm preoperatively to 5.3 mm (P<0.01) at follow-up. In non-RA patients, the mean differences (Δ) between flexion and extension were 7.8, 13.4, 3.5, and 18.5 degrees for ΔO–C1, ΔC1–2, ΔC2–3, and ΔC2–7, respectively.

Conclusions: In RA patients, a retroodontoid pseudotumor may develop because of atlantoaxial subluxation. In non-RA patients, excessive atlantoaxial angular motion because of the limited range of motion of O–C1 and/or subaxial vertebra may cause a pseudotumor. Atlantoaxial fusion to suppress atlantoaxial instability is one of the optimum treatments.

Author Information

Department of orthopaedic Surgery, Kurashiki Central Hospital, Okayama, Japan

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Eijiro Onishi, MD, PhD, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Kobe City Medical Center General Hospital, 2-1-1, Minamimachi, Chuouku Minatojima, Kobe city, 650-0047, Japan (e-mail:

Received January 7, 2013

Accepted April 21, 2013

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.