Nonoperative versus operative management of type II odontoid fracture in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis

J Neurosurg Spine 40:45–53, 2024

Odontoid fractures are the most common fracture of the cervical spine in adults older than 65 years of age. Fracture management remains controversial, given the inherently increased surgical risks in older patients. The objective of this study was to compare fusion rates and outcomes between operative and nonoperative treatments of type II odontoid fractures in the older population.

METHODS A systematic literature review was performed to identify studies reporting the management of type II odontoid fractures in patients older than 65 years from database inception to September 2022. A meta-analysis was performed to compare rates of fusion, stable and unstable nonunion, mortality, and complication.

RESULTS Forty-six articles were included in the final review. There were 2822 patients included in the different studies (48.9% female, 51.1% male), with a mean ± SD age of 81.5 ± 3.6 years. Patients in the operative group were significantly younger than patients in the nonoperative group (81.5 ± 3.5 vs 83.4 ± 2.5 years, p < 0.001). The overall (operative and nonoperative patients) fusion rate was 52.9% (720/1361). The fusion rate was higher in patients who underwent surgery (74.3%) than in those who underwent nonoperative management (40.3%) (OR 4.27, 95% CI 3.36–5.44). The likelihood of stable or unstable nonunion was lower in patients who underwent surgery (OR 0.37, 95% CI 0.28–0.49 vs OR 0.32, 95% CI 0.22–0.47). Overall, 4.8% (46/964) of nonoperatively managed patients subsequently required surgery due to treatment failure. Patient mortality across all studies was 16.6% (452/2721), lower in the operative cohort (13.2%) than the nonoperative cohort (19.0%) (OR 0.64, 95% CI 0.52–0.80). Complications were more likely in patients who underwent surgery (26.0% vs 18.5%) (OR 1.55, 95% CI 1.23–1.95). Length of stay was also higher with surgery (13.6 ± 3.8 vs 8.1 ± 1.9 days, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS Patients older than 65 years of age with type II odontoid fractures had higher fusion rates when treated with surgery and higher stable nonunion rates when managed nonoperatively. Complications and length of stay were higher in the surgical cohort. Mortality rates were lower in patients managed with surgery, but this phenomenon could be related to surgical selection bias. Fewer than 5% of patients who underwent nonoperative treatment required revision surgery due to treatment failure, suggesting that stable nonunion is an acceptable treatment goal.

Surgery Decreases Nonunion, Myelopathy, and Mortality for Patients With Traumatic Odontoid Fractures

Neurosurgery 93:546–554, 2023

Existing literature suggests that surgical intervention for odontoid fractures is beneficial but often does not control for known confounding factors.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the effect of surgical fixation on myelopathy, fracture nonunion, and mortality after traumatic odontoid fractures.

METHODS: We analyzed all traumatic odontoid fractures managed at our institution between 2010 and 2020. Ordinal multivariable logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with myelopathy severity at follow-up. Propensity score analysis was used to test the treatment effect of surgery on nonunion and mortality.

RESULTS: Three hundred and three patients with traumatic odontoid fracture were identified, of whom 21.6% underwent surgical stabilization. After propensity score matching, populations were well balanced across all analyses (Rubin’s B < 25.0, 0.5 < Rubin’s R < 2.0). Controlling for age and fracture angulation, type, comminution, and displacement, the overall rate of nonunion was lower in the surgical group (39.7% vs 57.3%, average treatment effect [ATE] = À0.153 [À0.279, À0.028], P = .017). Controlling for age, sex, Nurick score, Charlson Comorbidity Index, Injury Severity Score, and selection for intensive care unit admission, the mortality rate was lower for the surgical group at 30 days (1.7% vs 13.8%, ATE = À0.101 [À0.172, À0.030], P = .005) and at 1 year was 7.0% vs 23.7%, ATE = À0.099 [À0.181, À0.017], P = .018. Cox proportional hazards analysis also demonstrated a mortality benefit for surgery (hazard ratio = 0.587 [0.426, 0.799], P = .0009). Patients who underwent surgery were less likely to have worse myelopathy scores at follow-up (odds ratio = 0.48 [0.25, 0.93], P = .029).

CONCLUSION: Surgical stabilization is associated with better myelopathy scores at follow-up and causes lower rates of fracture nonunion, 30-day mortality, and 1-year mortality.

Minimally invasive modification of the Goel-Harms atlantoaxial fusion technique

Neurosurg Focus 54(3):E14, 2023

The Goel-Harms atlantoaxial screw fixation technique for the treatment of atlantoaxial instability and unstable odontoid fractures is reliable and reproducible for a variety of anatomies. The drawbacks of the technique are the potential for significant bleeding from the C2 nerve root venous plexus and the risks associated with posterior midline exposure and retraction, such as pain and wound complications. The authors developed a minimally invasive surgical (MIS) modification of the Goel-Harms technique using intra-articular grafting to facilitate placement of percutaneous lateral mass and pars screws with extended tabs for minimally invasive subfascial rod placement. The objective of this study was to present the authors’ first series of 5 patients undergoing minimally invasive modification in comparison with 51 patients undergoing open atlantoaxial fusion.

METHODS A retrospective analysis of patient comorbid conditions, blood loss, length of surgery, and length of stay was performed on patients undergoing Goel-Harms instrumented fusion (GHIF) for unstable odontoid fractures performed between 2016 and 2021.

RESULTS Patients undergoing the minimally invasive procedure showed significantly less blood loss than those undergoing the open atlantoaxial fusion procedure, with a median blood loss of 30 ml compared with 150 ml using the open technique (p < 0.01). The patients showed no significant differences in length of stay (2 days for MIS vs 4 days for open atlantoaxial fusion, p = 0.25). There were no significant differences in length of surgery for MIS, but a possible trend toward increased operative duration (234 vs 151 minutes, p = 0.112).

CONCLUSIONS In this small pilot study, it was shown that MIS-GHIF can be performed with decreased blood loss in atlantoaxial instability and odontoid fractures. This technique may allow for greater and safer application of the procedure in the elderly and infirm.


Morbidity and Mortality Associated with Surgery of Traumatic C2 Fractures in Octogenarians

Neurosurgery 80:854–862, 2017

Management of axis fractures in the elderly remains controversial. As the US population increasingly lives past 80 years, published C2 fracture morbidity/mortality profiles in younger cohorts (55+) have become less applicable to octogenarians.

OBJECTIVE: To report associations between surgery and mortality, hospital length of stay and discharge disposition in octogenarians with traumatic C2 fractures.

METHODS: Retrospective cohort study of 3847 patients age ≥ 80 years representing 17 702 incidents nationwide, divided into surgery/nonsurgery cohorts, using the National Sample Program of the National Trauma Data Bank from 2003 to 2012. Inpatient complications, mortality, length of stay, and discharge disposition are characterized; multivariable regression was utilized to determine associations between surgery and outcomes. Institutional Review Board (IRB): The National Sample Program dataset from the National Trauma Data Bank is fully deidentified and does not contain Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act identifiers; therefore, this study is exempt from IRB review at the University of California, San Francisco.

RESULTS: Incidence of surgery was 10.3%. Surgery was associated with increased pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and decubitus ulcer risks (P < .001). Inpatient mortality was 12.8% (nonsurgery—13.0%; surgery—10.3%; P = .120). Length of stay was 8.31±9.32 days (nonsurgery 7.78±9.21; surgery 12.86±9.07; P<.001) and showed an adjusted mean increase of 5.68 days with surgery (95% confidence interval [4.74-6.61]). Of patients surviving to discharge, 26% returned home (nonsurgery—26.8%; surgery— 18.8%; P=.001); surgery patientswere less likely to returnhome(odds ratio 0.59 [0.44-0.78]).

CONCLUSION: The present study confirms that surgery of traumatic C2 fractures in octogenarians does not significantly affect inpatient mortality and increases discharge to institutionalized care. Patients undergoing surgery are more likely to require longer hospitalization and suffer increased medical complications during their stay. Given the retrospective nature of this study, it is unclear whether these conclusions reflect differences in injury severity between surgery cohorts. This question may be considered in a future prospective study.

Anterior single screw fixation of odontoid fracture with intraoperative iso-C 3-dimensional imaging

Eur Spine J (2011) 20:1899–1907. DOI 10.1007/s00586-011-1860-0
The purpose of this study was to assess the value of isocentric C-arm three-dimensional (Iso-C 3D) fluoroscopy for the insertion of an anterior odontoid screw. The results of the Iso-C 3D group were compared with that of an historic control group using conventional fluoroscopy.
Methods  Twenty-nine patients diagnosed with type II or rostral-type III odontoid fractures were treated with a single anterior screw fixation in this study. The Iso-C 3D group included 13 patients and the other 16 patients were in the historic control group. All operations were performed by a single surgeon using standard procedure and manner. The clinical and radiographic results were recorded and compared between the two groups.
Results  The fluoroscopy time in the Iso-C 3D group was 42.9 s as compared to 68.1 s in the control group (P\ 0.01). The mean operative time was 91.5 min in the Iso-C 3D group when compared with 81.6 min in the control group (P =  0.20). The rate of bony fusion was 96.6% (28/29), the failure rate of reduction or fixation was 13.8% (7.7% in Iso-C 3D group; 18.8% in control group). The Smiley–Webster scale showed that 90% of patients achieved good or better outcomes
Conclusions  In conclusion, this technique can be safely extended to the treatment of technically difficult to treat spinal injuries and at the same time reduce total radiation exposure time both for the patient and the surgeon.