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J Spinal Disord Tech. 2007 Aug;20(6):436-41.

Sagittal alignment of the subaxial cervical spine after C1-C2 transarticular screw fixation in rheumatoid arthritis.

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Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Sumitomo Hospital, Osaka, Japan.


Several articles reported the association between the development of subaxial kyphosis and the hyperlordotic fixation of C1-C2. However, their patients were heterogeneous in both primary disease and operative procedure. Transarticular screw fixation has become a popular procedure for C1-C2 arthrodesis instead of wiring techniques in which C1-C2 is difficult to fix in the intended alignment. Furthermore, in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients, subaxial lesions play an important role in potential subaxial alignment changes. The subaxial influences after C1-C2 transarticular screw fixation in patients with RA are unclear. To investigate the radiographic features of the subaxial cervical spine after C1-C2 transarticular screw fixation for RA, we reviewed 28 cases of C1-C2 transarticular screw fixation for rheumatoid atlanto-axial subluxation. The sagittal alignment of C1-C2 and the subaxial cervical spine was measured and the factors that affect subaxial alignment were investigated. Subaxial alignment became less lordotic in the postoperative course. The C1-C2 fixation angle and subaxial alignment showed a negative linear correlation. However, no significant correlation was found between changes in the C1-C2 angle and changes in the subaxial alignment. Four patients had a postoperative kyphotic subaxial deformity. Neurologic deterioration recurred in 4 patients, because of the postoperative development of subaxial subluxation. Common radiographic changes included an increase in C1-C2 lordosis, constant inclination of C1, an anterior shift of C2, and a decrease in C2-C7 lordosis. Many factors, not only C1-C2 angle, are associated with subaxial sagittal alignment change after C1-C2 transarticular screw fixation.

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