A Modified Technique for Occipitocervical Fusion Using Compressed Iliac Crest Allograft Results in a High Rate of Fusion in the Pediatric Population

Rajiv R. Iyer, Gerald F. Tuite, Avner Meoded, Carolyn C. Carey, Luis F. Rodriguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background In children, high rates of occipitocervical (OC) fusion have been demonstrated with the use of rigid instrumentation in combination with harvested autograft, with or without bone morphogenetic protein (BMP). Historically, the use of allograft materials demonstrated inferior OC fusion outcomes compared with autograft. However, autograft harvest harbors an increased risk of patient morbidity, and the use of BMP is costly and controversial in children. Thus, there remains a need for safer, less costly, yet efficacious techniques for OC fusion in the pediatric population. Methods We retrospectively reviewed the charts of patients younger than 21 years of age who underwent OC fusion with structural allograft placement at our institution from 2010 to 2015. Data collected included age, sex, follow-up duration, fusion outcomes, and postoperative complications. Results A total of 19 patients (8 female and 11 male) underwent OC fusion with our surgical technique. Mean age was 8.5 ± 4.3 years. Radiographic follow up data were available for 18 of 19 patients. One patient was lost to clinical follow up but had radiographic confirmation of fusion. Thus, 18 of 18 (100%) of patients with radiographic follow-up achieved successful arthrodesis as determined by computed tomography. Median duration to documented fusion was 4.5 months. Clinical follow-up was available for 17 of 19 patients and was on average 18.8 ± 13.5 months. One patient required reoperation for graft fracture 8 months after radiographic confirmation of successful fusion. There were no vertebral artery injuries or other postoperative complications. Conclusions We demonstrate a modified technique for OC fusion in children with unique structural allograft shaping and affixation, leading to excellent fusion outcomes at follow up. This technique obviates the need for autograft harvest or BMP, and may decrease postoperative morbidity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)342-350
Number of pages9
JournalWorld Neurosurgery
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Allograft
  • Atlantooccipital dislocation
  • Atlantooccipital dissociation
  • Craniocervical instability
  • OC fusion
  • Occipitocervical fusion
  • Pediatric
  • Pseudarthrosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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