A novel technique of odontoidoplasty and C1 arch reconstruction: Anatomical and biomechanical basis

Abhishek Agarwal, Phillip M. Reyes, Ulises Garcia-Gonzalez, Daniel D. Cavalcanti, Steve W. Chang, Nicholas Theodore, Volker K.H. Sonntag, Robert F. Spetzler, Mark C. Preul, Neil R. Crawford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Transoral odontoidectomy and resection of the anterior C1 arch destabilize the atlantoaxial joint and risk its stability. OBJECTIVE: To preserve stability in such cases we devised and evaluated a proof-of-concept study. The arch and dens were dissected and decompression was performed on cadavers. The dens was replaced with an odontoid screw, and the C1 arch was replaced with a rib-graft substitute using miniplates. We assessed the biomechanical strength of the C1 ring and 3D occipitoatlantoaxial flexibility before and after the repair. METHODS: Five silicon-injected fixed cadaver heads were dissected. The arch of C1 and dens were preserved and reconstructed using odontoid screws and miniplates. Once the feasibility of the technique was established, we biomechanically tested 6 cadaveric occiput-C2 specimens in 3 phases: (1) intact/normal range of motion (ROM), (2) after transection of dens and C1 arch, and (3) with odontoidoplasty using odontoid screws and C1 arch reconstruction. RESULTS: After odontoidectomy and arch removal, angular ROM increased significantly in all directions of loading. Resection increased flexion-extension at the occiput-C1 and at C1-C2 by 21% and 129%, respectively. Reconstruction slightly increased flexion-extension stability (16% and 107%, respectively) relative to normal. With 70 N applied compression, the C1 ring separation was 1145% greater than normal. After reconstruction, the separation was only 89% greater than normal (statistically significant, P = .002). CONCLUSION: C1 arch reconstruction with or without odontoidoplasty restores only partial angular stability of the atlantoaxial joint but provides restoration of the ability of the C1 lateral masses to resist splaying, often observed as postodontoidectomy cranial settling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)ons103-ons113
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Atlantoaxial fixation
  • Biomechanical analysis
  • C1 arch reconstruction
  • Odontoidoplasty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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