Spinal navigation for posterior instrumentation of C1–2 instability using a mobile intraoperative CT scanner

J Neurosurg Spine 27:268–275, 2017

Spinal navigation techniques for surgical fixation of unstable C1–2 pathologies are challenged by complex osseous and neurovascular anatomy, instability of the pathology, and unreliable preoperative registration techniques. An intraoperative CT scanner with autoregistration of C-1 and C-2 promises sufficient accuracy of spinal navigation without the need for further registration procedures. The aim of this study was to analyze the accuracy and reliability of posterior C1–2 fixation using intraoperative mobile CT scanner–guided navigation.

METHODS In the period from July 2014 to February 2016, 10 consecutive patients with instability of C1–2 underwent posterior fixation using C-2 pedicle screws and C-1 lateral mass screws, and 2 patients underwent posterior fixation from C-1 to C-3. Spinal navigation was performed using intraoperative mobile CT. Following navigated screw insertion in C-1 and C-2, intraoperative CT was repeated to check for the accuracy of screw placement. In this study, the accuracy of screw positioning was retrospectively analyzed and graded by an independent observer.

RESULTS The authors retrospectively analyzed the records of 10 females and 2 males, with a mean age of 80.7 ± 4.95 years (range 42–90 years). Unstable pathologies, which were verified by fracture dislocation or by flexion/extension radiographs, included 8 Anderson Type II fractures, 1 unstable Anderson Type III fracture, 1 hangman fracture Levine Effendi Ia, 1 complex hangman-Anderson Type III fracture, and 1 destructive rheumatoid arthritis of C1–2. In 4 patients, critical anatomy was observed: high-riding vertebral artery (3 patients) and arthritis-induced partial osseous destruction of the C-1 lateral mass (1 patient). A total of 48 navigated screws were placed. Correct screw positioning was observed in 47 screws (97.9%). Minor pedicle breach was observed in 1 screw (2.1%). No screw displacement occurred (accuracy rate 97.9%).

CONCLUSION Spinal navigation using intraoperative mobile CT scanning was reliable and safe for posterior fixation in unstable C1–2 pathologies with high accuracy in this patient series.