Craniocervical Instability in the Setting of Os Odontoideum

Craniocervical Instability in the Setting of Os Odontoideum

Neurosurgery 76:514–521, 2015

Our clinical understanding of os odontoideum (OO) remains incomplete. Congenital and traumatic causes have been proposed and advocated. Clinical presentations range from asymptomatic to axial pain to myelopathy or vertebral-basilar ischemia. A consensus for surgical management exists for those found to have an unstable atlantoaxial complex or symptomatic cranial-vertebral junction compression.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the clinical presentation and surgical outcomes of patients with OO and an unstable atlantoaxial complex or symptomatic cranial-vertebral junction compression.

METHODS: Patients with a diagnosis of OO who underwent surgical management were included. Patients were excluded on the basis of previous C2 fracture, Fielding diagnostic criteria, and inadequate follow-up. History of trauma and presenting symptoms were assessed. Clinical and neurological improvements were measured with the use of patient satisfaction scores and the Japanese Orthopaedic Association scores. Fusion status was documented with the use of radiographs and computed tomographic imaging.

RESULTS: Of 279 patients, 112 reported a history of cranial-vertebral junction trauma, whereas 28 were diagnosed with congenital malformations. Clinically, 84.9% of patients presented with myelopathy, with pain presented in 42.6%. Atlantoaxial fixation was performed in 240 patients, occiput-to-C2 fixation in 35 patients, and extended occipitocervical fixation in 4 patients. Mean follow-up was 40.3 months. Complications were reported in 2.4% of patients. Japanese Orthopaedic Association scores improved from a preoperative mean of 12.4 to 14.8. Two hundred thirty-five patients (77.7%) improved, with 30 patients experiencing no change in symptoms and 14 patients deteriorating. Fusion was achieved in 96.8% of patients.

CONCLUSION: Our data reveal that surgical treatment for OO using the indications and techniques delineated is associated with high satisfaction rates, improved functional scores, and high fusion rates with low complication rates.

Management of Operative Complications Related to Occipitocervical Instrumentation


Neurosurgery 72[ONS Suppl 2]:ons214–ons228, 2013

The continued evolution of instrumentation techniques for fusions at the craniovertebral junction has enabled surgical treatment of a wide range of developmental, neoplastic, traumatic, and degenerative conditions. There has been an increased recognition of the morbidity associated with the complications secondary to occipitocervical instrumentation.

OBJECTIVE: To present representative complications secondary to occipitocervical instrumentation in patients who presented to our institution and to emphasize underlying principles in diagnosis and management of craniovertebral disease conditions through illustrative examples of their presentation, management, and follow-up.

METHODS: Clinical records for patients referred to the senior author (A.H.M.) between 2005 and 2010 for evaluation and management of their symptoms arising as a consequence of surgical intervention by a different primary neurosurgeon were reviewed.

RESULTS: Eight patients were identified with representative complications secondary to occipitocervical instrumentation. These complications included incorrect surgical technique, persistent instability, hardware misplacement with potential for vascular injury, associated neural injury, and secondary complications of wound healing resulting from methyl methacrylate use. Surgical revision was required in 2 patients. The remaining patients improved with removal of the offending hardware and acrylic cement. All patients reported symptom resolution, and dynamic imaging studies on follow-up indicated stable alignment and bony fusion.

CONCLUSION: These cases serve as illustrative examples of the spectrum of neural, vascular, biomechanical, and instrument-related complications associated with occipitocervical arthrodesis. Basic principles of occipitocervical instrumentation that enable safe and successful treatment of craniovertebral junction disease conditions have been highlighted. Potential complications and management strategies are discussed.

Surgical Management of Symptomatic Os Odontoideum With Posterior Screw Fixation Performed Using the Magerl and Harms Techniques With Intraoperative 3-Dimensional Fluoroscopy-Based Navigation

Spine 2012 ; 37 : 1839 – 1846

To evaluate the accuracy of screw fixation using intraoperative three-dimensional fluoroscopy-based navigation (ITFN) and to assess the clinical outcomes of this treatment regimen.

Summary of Background Data. The surgical management of symptomatic os odontoideum poses considerable difficulties due to the highly variable anatomy of the upper cervical spine and surrounding neurovascular structures. Various methods have been described for the treatment of symptomatic os odontoideum, all of which have limitations.

Methods. Nineteen patients with symptomatic os odontoideum were investigated. Pain scores were assessed using the visual analogue scale. Myelopathy was assessed using the Nurick scale and Odom’s criteria. Radiological imaging was carried out in all patients for diagnosis and to assess the atlantodens interval, space available for cord, and presence of intramedullary hyperintensity signals on T2-weighted images at the C1–C2 level. Posterior stabilization was performed for all patients by using ITFN.

Results. The mean Nurick score improved from 2.3 before surgery to 0.7 at the time of follow-up. The mean follow-up period was 34.7 months (range, 12–65 mo). According to Odom’s criteria, outcomes were as follows: excellent, 47%; good, 37%; fair, 11%; and poor, 5%. All patients with preoperative neck pain had symptom relief or improvement, with all of these patients having more than 83.7% improvement in visual analogue scale scores. The mean preoperative space available for cord value of 9.3 mm improved to 17.7 mm. Solid fusion and reduction of atlantoaxial dislocation were achieved in every patient without screw failure. Sixty screws were placed in 19 patients. Two C2 polyaxial screws in 2 patients and 1 transarticular screw in 1 patient slightly penetrated the transverse foramen with no vascular injury and clinical sequelae.

Conclusion. ITFN is a safe, accurate, and effective tool for screw placement in patients with symptomatic os odontoideum.