Rheumatoid arthritis of the craniovertebral junction

William E. Krauss, Jonathan M. Bledsoe, Michelle J. Clarke, Eric W. Nottmeier, Mark A. Pichelmann

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common inflammatory disease involving the spine. It has a predilection for involving the craniocervical spine. Despite widespread involvement of the cervical spine with RA, few patients need surgery. The 3 major spinal manifestations of RA in the cervical spine are basilar invagination, atlantoaxial instability, and subaxial subluxations. Surgical management of RA involving the craniovertebral junction remains a challenge despite a decline in severe cases and an improvement in surgical techniques. METHODS: We conducted an exhaustive review of English-language publications discussing RA involving the craniovertebral junction. We paid special attention to publications detailing modern surgical management of these conditions. In addition, we outline our own surgical experience with such patients. RESULTS: We discuss alternative surgical methods for treating basilar invagination, atlantoaxial instability, and concurrent subaxial subluxations. We detail our surgical technique for transoral odontoidectomy, occipital cervical fusion, and atlantoaxial fusion. We detail the use of spinal surgical navigation in both of these procedures. CONCLUSION: Surgical management of RA remains a challenging field. There clearly has been a decrease in cases of mutilating RA involving the craniovertebral junction. Surgical techniques for managing these conditions have steadily improved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)A83-A95
Issue numberSUPPL. 3
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • Atlantoaxial instability
  • Basilar invagination
  • Craniovertebral junction
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Rheumatoid arthritis of the craniovertebral junction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this