Anterior screw fixation of posteriorly displaced type II odontoid fractures

F. H. Geisler, C. Cheng, A. Poka, R. J. Brumback, P. R. Cooper, M. N. Hadley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Posteriorly displaced Type II odontoid fractures (Type II-P) are difficult to stabilize in an anatomic position with accepted methods of posterior atlantoaxial arthrodesis. Nine patients with Type II-P odontoid fractures with 4 to 15 mm displacement were treated with anterior odontoid screw stabilization. Seven of these patients had associated fractures or defects of the posterior arch of the first cervical vertebra (C1). Atlantoaxial posterior arthrodesis in these patients would not have been possible initially because of the lack of structural integrity of the posterior arch of C1. Two patients, later in the study, had no injury to the ring of C1. The odontoid fractures were stabilized with two 4.0-mm cancellous screws inserted through an interior approach to the neck under fluoroscopic control with the skin incision at the C5 level. Preoperative reduction of the displaced odontoid process and immediate operative stability of the atlantoaxial complex were obtained in each case. No neurological complications related to the procedure occurred. Two patients died of causes unrelated to their cervical fracture surgery. The 7 patients who survived were followed for a minimum of 6 months. Fracture union and cervical stability were demonstrated in each of the surviving patients, without evidence of screw loosening or loss of fixation. Normal range of motion of the neck was documented at follow-up in all surviving patients. Although this series represents a limited experience with this treatment technique, anterior odontoid screw fixation has significant advantages over accepted methods of cervical stabilization for Type II-P odontoid fractures. Immediate cervical stabilization is obtained, with a predictably high rate of fracture union and preservation of atlantoaxial motion. We believe this technique to be the treatment method of choice for Type II-P odontoid fractures displaced 4 mm or more accompanied by fractures of the posterior arch of the first cervical vertebra.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-38
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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