Sublaminar wire migration into the medulla oblongata: a case report

Alex Koziarz, Mohammed Aref, Brian Vinh, Arun Mensinkai, Saleh A. Almenawer, Kesava Reddy


Atlantoaxial procedures have been developed in an effort to ensure solid C1-C2 fusion. However, techniques that involve sublaminar wiring have the potential for neural structure injury. We present the management of a patient who previously underwent Gallie fusion 10 years ago and is presenting with a dislodged titanium wire that has migrated into the medulla oblongata. A 52-year-old female patient known with rheumatoid arthritis presented with truncal ataxia and food regurgitation 10 years after undergoing a C1-C2 Gallie fusion. A computerized tomography (CT) scan revealed that a wire from her Gallie fusion procedure migrated into the medulla oblongata. The patient underwent foramen magnum decompression with C1 bilateral laminectomy, instrumentation, and removal of a migrated wire. Six months later, a CT scan showed that all occipital screws were pulled out. In the revision surgery, new occipital screws were placed with a resultant significant improvement in patient’s gait postoperatively. Wire migration as a differential diagnosis should be considered in patients presenting with neurological dysfunction who underwent surgical treatment with sublaminar wire fusion techniques.