BackgroundOccipitocervical (OC) fusion is indicated for OC instability and other conditions. Surgical complications include infection, malunion, and instrument failure.
Case presentationWe described a patient who underwent OC fusion and subsequently developed complication of cerebellar abscess and obstructive hydrocephalus. A 63-year-old male patient had been suffering from long-term neck pain and limb numbness and weakness. Cervical spine examination revealed tight stenosis at C1 level and instability in the C1-C2 joints. A C1 laminectomy with OC fusion was performed, and the patient was discharged. Unfortunately, a few days later, he went to the emergency department and complained of persistent dizziness, vomiting, and unsteady gait. Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) images revealed a suspicious cerebellar abscess formation and hydrocephalus. Furthermore, CT images indicated that the left screw was loose, and the diameter of the right screw hole was much larger than the size of the screw. Besides, inappropriate length of the screw penetrated the occipital bone and may cause the disruption of dura mater. The patient underwent external ventricular drainage first, followed by abscess drainage and C1-C2 fixation a few days later. He was discharged without any further neurological deficits or infectious problems. The patient recovered with intact consciousness, full muscle strength, and improved numbness throughout the extremities, with a Nurick grade of 1. A follow-up magnetic resonance imaging at 3?months after surgery revealed near total resolution of the abscess. Inform consent was obtained from this patient.
ConclusionsCarefully conducting the procedure using the most tailored approach is essential to successful surgery, but this rare complication should always be kept in mind.
SUBMITTER: Lee CC