Examination. A 39-year-old previously healthy woman applied to our clinic with neck pain and unstable gait. Examination revealed grade 3/5 weakness in all four limbs, graded sensory loss below C2 level and hyperreflexia of biceps reflex, triceps reflex, radioperiosteal reflex and knee reflex. Imaging studies were obtained, which included plain film, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and 3d reconstruction of computed tomography (Figure.1). These studies demonstrated an expansive bony mass destruction of the axis vertebral body and odontoid. None of the examinations revealed a different primary tumor site.
Operation. The biopsy of the bony mass on the axis was firstly performed through the transoral approach. The tissue specimen was sent to the Development of the Pathology Medicine at our institution and pathological diagnosis was giant cell tumor of bone, grade II. Two weeks later, occipitocervical fusion by the posterior approach was performed. The location of C1 and C2 were identified by C-arm. Vertebral plate of C2 to C4, posterior arch of C1 and occipital protuberance were exposed layer by layer. After fixation of lateral mass screws in C2-C4 and occipital plate in occipital protuberance, the rod was secured to the occipital plate and lateral mass screws. A notched bone graft from ilium was placed under the rod between occipital bone and spinous process of C2. Seventeen days after the operation, the patient returned to the operating room to perform C2 tumor extirpation. C2 vertebral body exposure was obtained through the previous transoral approach incision. The tumor was separated and resected subtotally because of the special location of the tumor and serious haemorrhage. After hemostasis, the patient was transferred to the surgical intensive care unit.
Pathological Findings. Histological giant cell tumor shows increased cellularity, with numerous multinucleated giant cells uniformly dispersed among a large population of mononuclear cells. The multinucleated cell population exhibits a large volume and their centered nuclei may contain more than a hundred nuclei. The cytoplasm of the giant cell is abundant. Mononuclear cells are round, oval, polygonal and even spindled which exhibit little cytoplasm. There is little intercellular substrate other than a few collagen. Thus, the final clinicopathological diagnosis of a giant cell tumor of the axis was established. (Figure.2)
Postoperative Course and Treatment. A thorough imaging evaluation was performed consisting of plain film and MRI after occipitocervical fusion (Figure.3). We recommended adjuvant radiation therapy following resection but the patient refused. In follow-up 6 months post-surgery, the patient was able to walk without assistance with impaired sensation, but MRI revealed local recurrence of the tumor (Figure.4). She refused further therapy.