Institute and personal experience (over 25 years) of basilar invagination was reviewed. The database of the department included 3300 patients with craniovertebral junction pathology from the year 1951 till date. Patients with basilar invagination were categorized into two groups based on the presence (Group A) or absence (Group B) of clinical and radiological evidence of instability of the craniovertebral junction. Standard radiological parameters described by Chamberlain were used to assess the instability of the craniovertebral junction. The pathogenesis and clinical features in patients with Group A basilar invagination appeared to be related to mechanical instability, whereas it appeared to be secondary to embryonic dysgenesis in patients with Group B basilar invagination. Treatment by facetal distraction and direct lateral mass fixation can result in restoration of craniovertebral and cervical alignment in patients with Group A basilar invagination. Such a treatment can circumvent the need for transoral or posterior fossa decompression surgery. Foramen magnum bone decompression appears to be a rational surgical treatment for patients having Group B basilar invagination. The division of patients with basilar invagination on the basis of presence or absence of instability provides insight into the pathogenesis of the anomaly and a basis for rational surgical treatment.
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