Surgical approaches to atlanto-axial lesions are generally accomplished by either anterior (transoral) or posterior approaches as dictated by the location of the lesion. In certain patients, these approaches are combined, either in a single or staged procedure. Mechanical stabilization is much more readily accomplished posteriorly, as this allows easy incorporation of the occiput. While the transoral approach allows excellent exposure of the bodies of C1 and C2, it entails substantial surgical trauma. We describe the case of a woman with destruction of the anterior portions of the C1 and C2 vertebrae by metastatic breast cancer addressed by simultaneous anterior tumor debulking and posterior instrumentation through a posterolateral approach to the upper cervical spine
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