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Neurosurgery. 1995 Oct;37(4):688-92; discussion 692-3.

C1-C2 posterior cervical fusion: long-term evaluation of results and efficacy.

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Division of Neurosurgery, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Posterior wiring techniques are the most commonly used methods of achieving C1-C2 arthrodesis. Recently, transarticular screw fixation and interlaminar clamping have been advocated to achieve more secure fixation. A retrospective review of patients undergoing C1-C2 fusion for nonneoplastic disease was undertaken at the University of Toronto Hospital, with the aim of determining the long-term outcome of the selected procedures. Thirty-two patients underwent 36 procedures from 1986 to 1992, with a mean follow-up of 4.7 +/- 2.2 years (range, 2.0-8.0 yr). The most common disease processes were odontoid fracture (18 patients), transverse atlantal ligament injury (5 patients), os odontoideum (5 patients), and rheumatoid C1-C2 instability (3 patients). Thirty-one Gallie fusions, one Brooks-Jenkins fusion, two transarticular screw fusions, and two Halifax clamp applications were performed. Six (19%) of Gallie/Brooks-Jenkins fusions failed. These occurred with os odontoideum (three patients), Type II odontoid fracture (two patients), and transverse atlantal ligament injury (one patient). All transarticular screw and Halifax clamp procedures resulted in successful fusions. Two procedures (6%) resulted in new neurological deficit; both of these patients underwent posterior wiring for os odontoideum. This study suggests that Type II odontoid fractures may be successfully managed by a posterior wiring technique alone. Rheumatoid C1-C2 instability may be managed by posterior wiring supplemented with halo immobilization. Transarticular screw fixation has several potential advantages as a technique for C1-C2 arthrodesis and, in particular, may be appropriate for os odontoideum that had a high failure rate (75%) with conventional posterior wiring, even when this was supplemented with halo bracing.

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