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1.  Transarticular screw fixation for atlantoaxial instability - modified Magerl's technique in 38 patients 
Symptomatic atlantoaxial instability needs stabilization of the atlantoaxial joint. Among the various techniques described in literature for the fixation of atlantoaxial joint, Magerl's technique of transarticular screw fixation remains the gold standard. Traditionally this technique combines placement of transarticular screws and posterior wiring construct. The aim of this study is to evaluate clinical and radiological outcomes in subjects of atlantoaxial instability who were operated using transarticular screws and iliac crest bone graft, without the use of sublaminar wiring (a modification of Magerl's technique).
We evaluated retrospectively 38 subjects with atlantoaxial instability who were operated at our institute using transarticular screw fixation. The subjects were followed up for pain, fusion rates, neurological status and radiographic outcomes. Final outcome was graded both subjectively and objectively, using the scoring system given by Grob et al.
Instability in 34 subjects was secondary to trauma, in 3 due to rheumatoid arthritis and 1 had tuberculosis. Neurological deficit was present in 17 subjects. Most common presenting symptom was neck pain, present in 35 of the 38 subjects.
Postoperatively residual neck and occipital pain was present in 8 subjects. Neurological deficit persisted in only 7 subjects. Vertebral artery injury was seen in 3 subjects. None of these subjects had any sign of neurological deficit or vertebral insufficiency. Three cases had nonunion. At the latest follow up, subjectively, 24 subjects had good result, 6 had fair and 8 had bad result. On objective grading, 24 had good result, 11 had fair and 3 had bad result. The mean follow up duration was 41 months.
Transarticular screw fixation is an excellent technique for fusion of the atlantoaxial complex. It provides highest fusion rates, and is particularly important in subjects at risk for nonunion. Omitting the posterior wiring construct that has been used along with the bone graft in the traditional Magerl' s technique achieves equally good fusion rates and is an important modification, thereby avoiding the complications of sublaminar wire passage.
PMCID: PMC2995783  PMID: 21092173
2.  Bilateral C1–C2 Transarticular Screw and C1 Laminar Hook Fixation and Bone Graft Fusion for Reducible Atlantoaxial Dislocation: A Seven-Year Analysis of Outcome 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87676.
Bilateral C1-2 transarticular screw and C1 laminar hook fixation was developed on the basis of transarticular screws fixation. The modified technique has showed a better biomechanical stability than established techniques in previous study. However, long-term (minimum follow-up 7 years) outcomes of patients with reducible atlantoaxial dislocation who underwent this modified fixation technique have not still been reported.
A retrospective study was conducted to evaluate the outcome of 36 patients who underwent this modified technique. Myelopathy was assessed using the Ranawat myelopathy score and Myelopathy Disability Index. Pain scores were assessed using Visual Analogue Scale. Radiological imaging was assessed and the following data were extracted: the atlantodental intervals, the space available for cord, presence of spinal cord signal change on T2 weighted image, C1–C2 angle, C2–C7 angle and fusion rates.
All patients achieved a minimum seven-year follow up. 95% patients with neck and suboccipital pain improved after surgery; in their Visual Analogue pain scores, there was a greater than 50% improvement in their VAS scores with a drop of 5 points on the VAS (P<0.05). 92% of patients improved in the Ranawat myelopathy grade; the Myelopathy Disability Index assessment showed a preoperative mean score of 35.62 with postoperative mean 12.75(P<0.05). There was not any significant atlantoaxial instability at each follow-up time. The space available for cord increased in all patients. Postoperative sagittal kyphosis of the subaxial spine was not observed. After six months after surgery, bone grafts of all patients were fused. No complications related to surgery were found in the period of follow-up.
The long-term outcomes of this case series demonstrate that under the condition of thorough preoperative preparations, bilateral C1–C2 transarticular screw and C1 laminar hook fixation and bone graft fusion is a reliable posterior atlantoaxial fusion technique for reducible atlantoaxial dislocation.
PMCID: PMC3909196  PMID: 24498163
3.  Minimally invasive anterior transarticular screw fixation and microendoscopic bone graft for atlantoaxial instability 
European Spine Journal  2012;21(8):1568-1574.
Even though transarticular screw (TAS) fixation has been commonly used for posterior C1–C2 arthrodesis in both traumatic and non-traumatic lesions, anterior TAS fixation C1–2 is a less invasive technique as compared with posterior TAS which produces significant soft tissue injury, and there were few reports on percutaneous anterior TAS fixation and microendoscopic bone graft for atlantoaxial instability. The goals of our study were to describe and evaluate a new technique for anterior TAS fixation of the atlantoaxial joints for traumatic atlantoaxial instability by analyzing radiographic and clinical outcomes.
This was a retrospective study of seven consecutive patients with C1–C2 instability due to upper cervical injury treated by a minimally invasive procedure from May 2007 to August 2009. Bilateral anterior TAS were inserted by the percutaneous approach under Iso-C3D fluoroscopic control. The atlantoaxial joint space was prepared for morselized autogenous bone graft under microendoscopy. The data for analysis included time after the injuries, operating time, intraoperative blood loss, X-ray exposure time, clinical results, and complications. Radiographic evaluation included the assessment of atlantoaxial fusion rate and placement of TAS. Bone fusion of the atlantoaxial joints was assessed by flexion extension lateral radiographs and 1-mm thin-slice computed tomography images as radiographic results. Clinical assessment was done by analyzing the recovery state of clinical presentation from the preoperative period to the last follow-up and by evaluating complications.
A total of 14 screws were placed correctly. The atlantoaxial solid fusion without screw failure was confirmed by CT scan in seven cases after a mean follow-up of 27.5 months (range 18–45 months). All patients with associated clinical presentation made a recovery without neurologic sequelae. Postoperative dysphagia occurred and disappeared in two cases within 5 days after surgery. There were no other complications during the follow-up period.
Percutaneous anterior TAS fixation and microendoscopic bone graft could be an option for achieving C1–C2 stabilization with several potential advantages such as less tissue trauma and better accuracy. Bilateral TAS fixation and morselized autograft affords effective fixation and solid fusion by a minimally invasive approach.
PMCID: PMC3535255  PMID: 22315033
Cervical instability; Atlantoaxial fixation; Transarticular screw; Fusion; Minimally invasive spine surgery
4.  Rheumatoid vertical and subaxial subluxation can be prevented by atlantoaxial posterior screw fixation 
European Spine Journal  2012;21(12):2498-2505.
Literature has described a risk for subsequent vertical subluxation (VS) and subaxial subluxation (SAS) following atlantoaxial subluxation in rheumatoid patients; however, the interaction of each subluxation and the radiographic findings for atlantoaxial fixation has not been described. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of two different posterior atlantoaxial screw fixation on the development of subluxation in patients with rheumatoid atlantoaxial subluxation.
Between 1996 and 2006, rheumatoid patients treated with transarticular fixation and posterior wiring (TA) or C1 lateral mass–C2 pedicle screw fixations (SR) in the Nagoya Spine Group hospitals, a multicenter cooperative study group, were included in this study. VS, SAS, craniocervical sagittal alignment, and range of motion (ROM) at the atlantoaxial adjacent segments were investigated to determine whether posterior atlantoaxial screw fixation is a prophylactic or a risk factor for the development of VS and SAS.
The mean follow-up was 7.2 years (4–12). No statistically significant difference was observed among the patients treated with either of the procedure during the follow-up period. Of 34 patients who underwent posterior atlantoaxial screw fixation, SAS was observed in 26.5 % during the follow-up period; however, VS was not observed. Postoperative C2–7 angle, and Oc–C1 and C2–3 ROM were significantly different between patients with and without postoperative SAS. The incidence of SAS was 38.9 % for TA and 12.5 % for SR; statistically significant differences were observed in the postoperative C1–2 and C2–7 angles, and C2–3 ROM.
Atlantoaxial posterior screw fixation may be an appropriate prophylactic intervention for VS and SAS if the atlantoaxial joint develops bony fusion following physiological alignment. Compared to TA, SR provided optimal atlantoaxial angle and prevented lower adjacent segment degeneration, thereby reducing SAS.
PMCID: PMC3508217  PMID: 22825632
Rheumatoid arthritis; Atlantoaxial subluxation; Vertical subluxation; Subaxial subluxation; Posterior screw fixation
5.  Atlantoaxial transarticular screw fixation and posterior fusion using polyester cable: a 10-year experience 
European Spine Journal  2013;22(7):1564-1569.
To retrospective review the clinical outcomes of the modified operative technique using a polyester suture material (Ethibond* Excel) for atlantoaxial transarticular screw fixation and posterior fusion.
The retrospective reviews were conducted from 2002 to 2012. The patient’s medical record reviews included demographic data, cause of atlantoaxial instability, orthopedic and surgical history, clinical presentation, radiographic finding including plain radiography, complications, operative detail, and outcome of treatment. Fusion of C1–C2 was defined as either graft consolidation or absence of C1–C2 movement on lateral flexion–extension radiograph.
Twenty-three patients demonstrated clinical and radiographic evidence of atlantoaxial instability (13 men and 10 women, with a mean age of 42 years). Majority of atlantoaxial instability was caused by trauma. Most common clinical symptom was neck pain with or without cervical myelopathy. Bilateral screws were placed in 18 of the 23 patients. Five patients underwent placement of unilateral screws. The 13 patients were inserted by screws with diameter 4.0 mm. The means screw length was 40.33 mm. The means of operative time and estimated blood loss were 3.6 h and 234 ml, respectively. The mean of follow-up duration was 18 months. All 41 screws were positioned satisfactorily in C1 lateral mass. All 23 patients achieved fusion (100 % fusion rate). After a period of follow-up, 9 of the 10 neurological deficit patients had completely recovered.
We concluded that the atlantoaxial transarticular screw fixation and posterior fusion using polyester cable can be used for C1–2 fusion with a high fusion rate and less complications in various cases.
PMCID: PMC3698352  PMID: 23608934
Atlantoaxial instability; Polyester cable; Transarticular screw fixation
6.  Mid-Term Results of Computer-Assisted Cervical Pedicle Screw Fixation 
Asian Spine Journal  2014;8(6):759-767.
Study Design
A retrospective study.
The present study aimed to evaluate mid-term results of cervical pedicle screw (CPS) fixation for cervical instability.
Overview of Literature
CPS fixation has widely used in the treatment of cervical spinal instability from various causes; however, there are few reports on mid-term surgical results of CPS fixation.
Record of 19 patients who underwent cervical and/or upper thoracic (C2-T1) pedicle screw fixation for cervical instability was reviewed. The mean observation period was 90.2 months. Evaluated items included Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) score and C2-7 lordotic angle before surgery and at 5 years after surgery. Postoperative computerized tomography was used to determine the accuracy of screw placement. Visual analog scale (VAS) for neck pain and radiological evidence of adjacent segment degeneration (ASD) at the 5-year follow-up were also evaluated.
Mean JOA score was significantly improved from 9.0 points before surgery to 12.8 at 5 years after surgery (p=0.001). The C2-7 lordotic angle of the neutral position improved from 6.4° to 7.8° at 5 years after surgery, but this was not significant. The major perforation rate was 5.0%. There were no clinically significant complications such as vertebral artery injury, spinal cord injury, or nerve root injury caused by any screw perforation. Mean VAS for neck pain was 49.4 at 5 years after surgery. The rate of ASD was 21.1%.
Our mid-term results showed that CPS fixation was useful for treating cervical instability. Severe complications were prevented with the assistance of a computed tomography-based navigation system.
PMCID: PMC4278981  PMID: 25558318
Cervical pedicle screw; Cervical instability; Mid-term results; Adjacent segment degeneration
7.  Evaluation of biomechanical properties of anterior atlantoaxial transarticular locking plate system using three-dimensional finite element analysis 
European Spine Journal  2013;22(12):2686-2694.
To evaluate a new anterior atlantoaxial transarticular locking plate system using finite element analysis.
Thin-section spiral computed tomography was performed from occiput to C2 region. A finite element model of an unstable atlantoaxial joint, treated with an anterior atlantoaxial transarticular locking plate system, was compared with the simple anterior atlantoaxial transarticular screw system. Flexion, extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation were imposed on the model. Displacement of the atlantoaxial transarticular screw and stress at the screw–bone interface were observed for the two internal fixation systems.
Screw displacement was less using the anterior atlantoaxial transarticular locking plate system compared to simple anterior atlantoaxial transarticular screw fixation under various conditions, and stability increased especially during flexion and extension.
The anterior atlantoaxial transarticular locking plate system not only provided stronger fixation, but also decreased screw-bearing stress and screw–bone interface stress compared to simple anterior atlantoaxial transarticular screw fixation.
PMCID: PMC3843803  PMID: 23821221
Atlantoaxial fusion; Anterolateral retropharyngeal approach; Biomechanics; Finite element analysis
8.  Atlantoaxial fixation using the polyaxial screw–rod system 
European Spine Journal  2006;16(4):479-484.
The aim of this study is to evaluate the first results of the atlantoaxial fixation using polyaxial screw–rod system. Twenty-eight patients followed-up 12–29 months (average 17.1 months) were included in this study. The average age was 59.5 years (range 23–89 years). The atlantoaxial fusion was employed in 20 patients for an acute injury to the upper cervical spine, in 1 patient with rheumatoid arthritis for atlantoaxial vertical instability, in 1 patient for C1–C2 osteoarthritis, in 2 patients for malunion of the fractured dens. Temporary fixation was applied in two patients for type III displaced fractures of the dens and in two patients for the atlantoaxial rotatory dislocation. Retrospectively, we evaluated operative time, intraoperative bleeding and the interval of X-ray exposure. The resulting condition was subjectively evaluated by patients. We evaluated also the placement, direction and length of the screws. Fusion or stability in the temporary fixation was evaluated on radiographs taken at 3, 6, 12 weeks and 6 and 12 months after the surgery. As concerns complications, intraoperatively we monitored injury of the nerve structures and the vertebral artery. Monitoring of postoperative complications was focused on delayed healing of the wound, breaking or loosening of screws and development of malunion. Operative time ranged from 35 to 155 min, (average 83 min). Intraoperative blood loss ranged from 50 to 1,500 ml (average 540 ml). The image intensifier was used for a period of 24 s to 2 min 36 s (average 1 min 6 s). Within the postoperative evaluation, four patients complained of paresthesia in the region innervated by the greater occipital nerve. A total of 56 screws were inserted into C1, their length ranged from 26 to 34 mm (average, 30.8 mm). All screws were positioned correctly in the C1 lateral mass. Another 56 screws were inserted into C2. Their length ranged from 28 to 36 mm (average 31.4 mm). Three screws were malpositioned: one screw perforated the spinal canal and two screws protruded into the vertebral artery canal. C1–C2 stability was achieved in all patients 12 weeks after the surgery. No clinically manifested injury of the vertebral artery or nerve structures was observed in any of these cases. As for postoperative complications, we recorded wound dehiscence in one patient. The Harms C1–C2 fixation is a very effective method of stabilizing the atlantoaxial complex. The possibility of a temporary fixation without damage to the atlantoaxial joints and of reduction after the screws and rods had been inserted is quite unique.
PMCID: PMC2229812  PMID: 17051397
Atlantoaxial fixation; Spine surgery; Atlantoaxial instability
9.  Posterior atlantoaxial dislocation without fracture and neurologic deficit: a case report and the review of literature 
European Spine Journal  2009;19(Suppl 2):118-123.
Traumatic posterior atlantoaxial dislocation without related fracture of the odontoid process is very rare, and only ten cases have been previously reported. The objective of this paper was to describe a case of traumatic posterior atlantoaxial dislocation without related fracture of the odontoid process, and its management with atlantoaxial transarticular screw fixation and bony fusion through an anterior retropharyngeal approach, and to review the relevant literature. The patient’s medical and radiographic history is reviewed as well as the relevant medical literature. Posterior atlantoaxial dislocation was confirmed in a 48-year-old male struck by an automobile through conventional radiography, computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. No related fracture of the odontoid process or neurological deficit was found in this patient. Transarticular screw fixation of the atlantoaxial articulation through anterior retropharyngeal approach was performed after several unsuccessful attempts of closed reduction. At the latest follow-up, the lateral cervical spine radiography in flexion and extension demonstrated no instability of the atlantoaxial complex 21 months after the operation. In conclusion, patients with posterior atlantoaxial dislocation without fracture may survive with few or no-long term neurological deficit. Routine CT and MRI of the cervical spine should be carried out in patients with head or neck trauma to prevent missing of this rare clinical entity. Transarticular screw fixation of the atlantoaxial articulation through anterior retropharyngeal approach is safe and useful in case the management of dislocation is unsuccessful under closed reduction.
PMCID: PMC2899621  PMID: 19714372
Atlantoaxial dislocation; Anterior retropharyngeal approach; Transarticular screw; Neurological deficit
10.  Computer-assisted posterior instrumentation of the cervical and cervico-thoracic spine 
European Spine Journal  2003;13(1):50-59.
Posterior instrumentation of the cervical spine has become increasingly popular in recent years. Dissatisfaction with lateral mass fixation, especially at the cervico-thoracic junction, has led spine surgeons to use pedicle screws. The improved biomechanical stability of pedicle screws and transarticular C1/2 screws allows for shorter instrumentations and improves the repositioning possibilities. Nevertheless, there are potential risks of iatrogenic damage to the spinal cord, nerve roots or the vertebral artery with both techniques. Therefore, the aim of this study was to evaluate whether C1/2 transarticular screws and transpedicular screws can be applied safely and with high accuracy in the cervical spine and the cervico-thoracic junction using a computer-assisted surgery system (CAS system). Posterior instrumentation was performed using the Brainlab VectorVision System (BrainLAB , Heimstetten, Germany) in 19 patients. Surface matching was used for registration. We placed 22 transarticular screws C1/2, 31 cervical pedicle screws, 10 high thoracic pedicle screws and one lateral mass screw C1. The screw position was evaluated postoperatively using CT with multiplanar reconstruction in the screw axis of each screw. None of the transarticular screws or pedicle screws was significantly (>2 mm) misplaced and no screw-related injury to vascular, neurogenic or bony structures was observed. No screw revision was necessary. The mean operation time was 144 min (90–240 min) and the mean blood loss was 234 ml (50–800 ml). C1/2 transarticular screws, as well as transpedicular screws in the cervical spine and the cervico-thoracic junction, can be applied safely and with high accuracy using a CAS system. Computer-assisted instrumentation is recommended especially for pedicle screws at C3–C6.
PMCID: PMC3468035  PMID: 14634850
Computer-assisted surgery; Cervical spine; Posterior instrumentation; Pedicle screws; Transarticular screws; In vivo
11.  Clinical Experiences and Usefulness of Cervical Posterior Stabilization with Polyaxial Screw-Rod System 
The objective of this study is to investigate the safety, surgical efficacy, and advantages of a polyaxial screw-rod system for posterior occipitocervicothoracic arthrodesis.
Charts and radiographs of 32 patients who underwent posterior cervical fixation between October 2004 and February 2006 were retrospectively reviewed. Posterior cervical polyaxial screw-rod fixation was applied on the cervical spine and/or upper thoracic spine. The surgical indication was fracture or dislocation in 18, C1-2 ligamentous injury with trauma in 5, atlantoaxial instability by rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH) in 4, cervical spondylosis with myelopathy in 4, and spinal metastatic tumor in 1. The patients were followed up and evaluated based on their clinical status and radiographs at 1, 3, 6 months and 1 year after surgery.
A total of 189 screws were implanted in 32 patients. Fixation was carried out over an average of 3.3 spinal segment (range, 2 to 7). The mean follow-up interval was 20.2 months. This system allowed for screw placement in the occiput, C1 lateral mass, C2 pars, C3-7 lateral masses, as well as the lower cervical and upper thoracic pedicles. Satisfactory bony fusion and reduction were achieved and confirmed in postoperative flexion-extension lateral radiographs and computed tomography (CT) scans in all cases. Revision surgery was required in two cases due to deep wound infection. One case needed a skin graft due to necrotic change. There was one case of kyphotic change due to adjacent segmental degeneration. There were no other complications, such as cord or vertebral artery injury, cerebrospinal fluid leak, screw malposition or back-out, or implant failure, and there were no cases of postoperative radiculopathy due to foraminal stenosis.
Posterior cervical stabilization with a polyaxial screw-rod system is a safe and reliable technique that appears to offer several advantages over existing methods. Further biomechanical testings and clinical experiences are needed in order to determine the true benefits of this procedure.
PMCID: PMC2588202  PMID: 19096562
Cervical spine; Lateral mass; Polyaxial screw-rod
12.  Role of the O-arm and Computer-assisted Navigation of Safe Screw Fixation in Children with Traumatic Rotatory Atlantoaxial Subluxation 
Asian Spine Journal  2012;6(4):266-273.
Study Design
A retrospective analysis of 7 patients with traumatic rotatory atlanto-axial subluxation.
Overview of Literature
Cases of traumatic rotatory atlantoaxial subluxation in children are difficult to be stabilized. Surgical challenges include: narrow pedicles, medial vertebral arteries, vertebral artery anomalies, fractured pedicles or lateral masses, and fixed subluxation. The use of O-arm and computer-assisted navigation are still tested as aiding tools in such operative modalities.
Report of clinical series for evaluation of the safety of use of the O-arm and computed assisted-navigation in screw fixation in children with traumatic rotatory atlantoaxial subluxation.
In the present study, 7 cases of rotatory atlantoaxial traumatic subluxation were operated between December 2009 and March 2011. All patient-cases had undergone open reduction and instrumentation using atlas lateral mass and axis pedicle screws with intraoperative O-arm with computer-assisted navigation.
All hardware was safely placed in the planned trajectories in all the 7 cases. Intraoperative O-arm and computer assisted-navigation were useful in securing neural and vascular tissues safety with tough-bony purchases of the hardware from the first and only trial of application with sufficient reduction of the subluxation.
Successful surgery is possible with using the intraoperative O-arm and computer-assisted navigation in safe and proper placement of difficult atlas lateral mass and axis pedicle screws for rotatory atlantoaxial subluxation in children.
PMCID: PMC3530701  PMID: 23275810
Atlantoaxial joint fusion; Intraoperative computer-assisted 3D navigation; Computer-assisted three-dimensional imaging
13.  Bilateral C1 laminar hooks combined with C2 pedicle screws fixation for treatment of C1–C2 instability not suitable for placement of transarticular screws 
European Spine Journal  2010;19(8):1378-1382.
The study design described here is a posterior C1–C2 fusion technique composed of bilateral C1 hooks and C2 pedicle screws. In addition, the clinical results of using this method on 13 patients with C1–C2 instability are reported. The objectives are to introduce a new technique for posterior C1–C2 fusion and to evaluate the clinical outcome of using it to treat C1–C2 instability. From October 2006 to August 2008, 13 patients (9 men and 4 women) with C1–C2 instability were included in this study: 3 had acute odontoid fractures, 4 had obsolete odontoid fractures, 4 had os odontoideum and 2 had traumatic rupture of the transverse ligament. All patients underwent posterior atlantoaxial fixation with bilateral C1 hooks and C2 pedicle screws. The mean follow-up duration was 25 months (range 13–30 months). Each patient underwent a complete cervical radiograph series, including anterior–posterior, lateral, and flexion–extension views, and a computed tomographic scan. The clinical course was evaluated according to the Frankel grading system. No clinically manifested injury of the nerve structures or the vertebral artery was observed in any of these cases. Five patients with neurological symptoms showed significant improvement in neurological function postoperatively. Bony fusion and construction stability were observed in all 13 patients (100%) on their follow-up radiographs, and no instrument failure was observed. Bilateral C1 hooks combined with C2 pedicle screws can be used as an alternative treatment method for C1–C2 dislocation, especially in cases not suitable for the use of transarticular screws. The clinical follow-up shows that this technique is a safe and effective method of treatment.
PMCID: PMC2989186  PMID: 20229279
Atlantoaxial; Instability; Internal fixators; Spinal fusion
14.  Computer-assisted screw insertion for cervical disorders in rheumatoid arthritis 
European Spine Journal  2006;16(4):485-494.
To reconstruct highly destructed unstable rheumatoid arthritis (RA) cervical lesions, the authors have been using C1/2 transarticular and cervical pedicle screw fixations. Pedicle screw fixation and C1/2 transarticular screw fixation are biomechanically superior to other fixation techniques for RA patients. However, due to severe spinal deformity and small anatomical size of the vertebra, including the lateral mass and pedicle, in the most RA cervical lesions, these screw fixation procedures are technically demanding and pose the potential risk of neurovascular injuries. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the accuracy and safety of cervical pedicle screw insertion to the deformed, fragile, and small RA spine lesions using computer-assisted image-guidance systems. A frameless, stereotactic image-guidance system that is CT-based, and optoelectronic was used for correct screw placement. A total of 21 patients (16 females, 5 males) with cervical disorders due to RA were surgically treated using the image-guidance system. Postoperative computerized tomography and plane X-ray was used to determine the accuracy of the screw placement. Neural and vascular complications associated with screw insertion and postoperative neural recovery were evaluated. Postoperative radiological evaluations revealed that only 1 (2.1%; C4) of 48 screws inserted into the cervical pedicle had perforated the vertebral artery canal more than 25% (critical breach). However, no neurovascular complications were observed. According to Ranawat’s classification, 9 patients remained the same, and 12 patients showed improvement. Instrumentation failure, loss of reduction, or nonunion was not observed at the final follow-up (average 49.5 months; range 24–96 months). In this study, the authors demonstrated that image-guidance systems could be applied safely to the cervical lesions caused by RA. Image-guidance systems are useful tools in preoperative planning and in transarticular or transpedicular screw placement in the cervical spine of RA patients.
PMCID: PMC2229817  PMID: 17024400
Cervical spine; Image guidance; Rheumatoid arthritis; Cervical pedicle screw; Transarticular screw
15.  Intraoperative Vertebral Artery Angiography to Guide C1-2 Transarticular Screw Fixation in a Patient with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy 
We present a case of an athetoid cerebral palsy with quadriparesis caused by kyphotic deformity of the cervical spine, severe spinal stenosis at the cervicomedullary junction, and atlantoaxial instability. The patient improved after the first surgery, which included a C1 total laminectomy and C-arm guided righ side unilateral C1-2 transarticular screw fixation. C1-2 fixation was not performed on the other side because of an aberrant and dominant vertebral artery (VA). Eight months after the first operation, the patient required revision surgery for persistent neck pain and screw malposition. We used intraoperative VA angiography with simultaneous fluoroscopy for precise image guidance during bilateral C1-2 transarticular screw fixation. Intraoperative VA angiography allowed the accurate insertion of screws, and can therefore be used to avoid VA injury during C1-2 transarticular screw fixation in comorbid patients with atlantoaxial deformities.
PMCID: PMC3358609  PMID: 22639719
Atlantoaxial instability; Transarticular screw fixation; Vertebral artery; Intraoperative angiography; Athetoid cerebral palsy
16.  Anterior transarticular screw fixation as a conventional operation for rigid stabilization 
Surgical Neurology International  2014;5(Suppl 15):S544-S547.
Anterior transarticular screw (ATS) fixation is a useful surgical option for atlantoaxial (AA) stabilization. This report presents a revised ATS method for AA fusion.
A 79-year-old male presented with AA instability attributed both to an old odontoid fracture and severe degeneration of the lateral atlantoaxial joints (LAAJs). ATS fixation was performed through the conventional anterior cervical approach. The longest screw trajectories were planned preoperatively using multiplanar reconstruction computed tomography (CT) scans, with entry points of the screws situated at the midpoint on the inferior border of the axial body. The surgical exposure was limited to opening at the entry points alone. Our retractor of choice was the Cusco speculum; it sufficiently secured space for utilizing the required instruments for screw placement while offering sufficient protection of soft tissues. Cannulated full-threaded bicortical screws stabilized the LAAJs. Screw insertion required a significant amount of coronal angulation up to the superior articular process of the atlas under open-mouth and lateral fluoroscopy image guidance. After ATS fixation, bone grafting was performed between the posterior laminae of the axis and the atlas through a conventional posterior approach.
Bony fusion between the atlas and the axis was confirmed radiographically. Arthrodesis of the LAAJs occurred despite no bone grafting.
Rigid fixation of the LAAJs was obtained by our ATS technique, indicating that it is an alternative method for AA fixation when posterior rigid internal fixation is not applicable.
PMCID: PMC4287909  PMID: 25593774
Anterior transarticular screw fixation; atlantoaxial instability; facet degeneration; odontoid fracture
17.  Anterior retropharyngeal fixation C1-2 for stabilization of atlantoaxial instabilities: study of feasibility, technical description and preliminary results 
European Spine Journal  2006;15(9):1326-1338.
Posterior transarticular screw fixation C1-2 with the Magerl technique is a challenging procedure for stabilization of atlantoaxial instabilities. Although its high primary stability favoured it to sublaminar wire-based techniques, the close merging of the vertebral artery (VA) and its violation during screw passage inside the axis emphasizes its potential risk. Also, posterior approach to the upper cervical spine produces extensive, as well as traumatic soft-tissue stripping. In comparison, anterior transarticular screw fixation C1-2 is an atraumatic technique, but has been neglected in the literature, even though promising results are published and lectured to date. In 2004, anterior screw fixation C1-2 was introduced in our department for the treatment of atlantoaxial instabilities. As it showed convincing results, its general anatomic feasibility was worked up. The distance between mid-sagittal line of C2 and medial border of the VA groove resembles the most important anatomic landmark in anterior transarticular screw fixation C1-2. Therefore, CT based measurements on 42 healthy specimens without pathology of the cervical spine were performed. Our data are compiled in an extended collection of anatomic landmarks relevant for anterior transarticular screw fixation C1-2. Based on anatomic findings, the technique and its feasibility in daily clinical work is depicted and discussed on our preliminary results in seven patients.
PMCID: PMC2438564  PMID: 16604355
C1–C2; Atlantoaxial instability; Anatomy; Upper cervical spine; Cervical fusion
18.  Posterior pedicle screw fixation for complex atlantoaxial fractures with atlanto-dental interval of ≥5 mm or C2-C3 angulation of ≥11° 
Previous studies have demonstrated that the posterior pedicle screw fixation is an effective and safe method to treat atlantoaxial fractures. However, no report focuses on only the complex atlantoaxial fractures with atlanto-dental interval (ADI) of ≥5 mm or C2-C3 angulation of ≥11°.
This study was to retrospectively evaluate the outcome of 15 patients (six females and nine males; age, 27–55 years) who underwent posterior pedicle screw fixation for the above complex atlantoaxial fractures between July 2006 and March 2011. Fracture combinations included three Jefferson-type II odontoid, four anterior ring-type II odontoid, two posterior ring-type II odontoid, one lateral mass-type II odontoid, one Jefferson-hangman’s fracture, three anterior ring-hangman’s fracture, and one lateral mass-hangman’s fracture. Fracture healing and bone fusion were determined on X-ray scan. Upper limbs, lower limbs, and sphincter functions were assessed using the Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) score. The Frankel grading system was used to determine the neurological situation.
The mean operative time, blood loss, and hospital stays were 108.9 ± 25.8 min, 508.0 ± 209.6 ml, and 13.3 ± 2.0 days. Fracture healing and graft fusion were obtained in all patients within 9 months. The ADI or C2-C3 angulation was reduced to ≤5 mm or ≤11°. The JOA score was significantly improved from 7.27 ± 1.10 preoperatively to 15.7 ± 2.1 postoperatively (P <0.001), with 88.1 ± 18.3% recovery rate and 93.3% excellent and good rate. The neurological situation was improved in all patients by at least 1 grade in the Frankel scale. After a mean of 36.5 months of follow-up (range, 18 to 58 months), no operative complications (spinal cord injury, vertebral artery injury, or cerebrospinal fluid leakage) were observed.
Posterior pedicle screw fixation is a reliable, effective, and minimally invasive procedure for patients suffering from complex atlantoaxial fractures.
PMCID: PMC4245791  PMID: 25407360
Complex atlantoaxial fractures; Surgical treatment; Screw fixation
19.  Anterior transarticular screw fixation for atlantoaxial arthrodesis: A report of two cases 
The sequelae of atlantoaxial instability (AAI) range from axial neck pain to life-threatening neurologic injury. Instrumentation and fusion of the C1-2 joint is often indicated in the setting of clinical or biomechanical instability. This is the first clinical report of anterior Smith-Robinson C1-2 transarticular screw (TAS) fixation for AAI. The first patient presented with ischemic brain tissue secondary to post-traumatic C1-2 segment instability from a MVC 7 years prior to presentation. The second patient presented with a 3 year history of persistent right-sided neck and upper scalp pain. Both were treated with transarticular C1-2 fusion through decortication of the atlantoaxial facet joints and TAS fixation via the anterior Smith-Robinson approach. At 16 months follow-up, the first patient maintained painless range of motion of the cervical spine and denied sensorimotor deficits. The second patient reported 90% improvement in her pre-operative symptoms of neck pain and paresthesia. Anterior Smith-Robinson C1-2 TAS fixation provides a useful alternative to the posterior Goel and Magerl techniques for C1-2 stabilization and fusion.
PMCID: PMC3980563  PMID: 24737928
Anterior approach; atlantoaxial instability; C1-C2 fixation; transarticular screw fixation
20.  The development and evaluation of individualized templates to assist transoral C2 articular mass or transpedicular screw placement in TARP-IV procedures: adult cadaver specimen study 
Clinics  2014;69(11):750-757.
The transoral atlantoaxial reduction plate system treats irreducible atlantoaxial dislocation from transoral atlantoaxial reduction plate-I to transoral atlantoaxial reduction plate-III. However, this system has demonstrated problems associated with screw loosening, atlantoaxial fixation and concealed or manifest neurovascular injuries. This study sought to design a set of individualized templates to improve the accuracy of anterior C2 screw placement in the transoral atlantoaxial reduction plate-IV procedure.
A set of individualized templates was designed according to thin-slice computed tomography data obtained from 10 human cadavers. The templates contained cubic modules and drill guides to facilitate transoral atlantoaxial reduction plate positioning and anterior C2 screw placement. We performed 2 stages of cadaveric experiments with 2 cadavers in stage one and 8 in stage two. Finally, guided C2 screw placement was evaluated by reading postoperative computed tomography images and comparing the planned and inserted screw trajectories.
There were two cortical breaching screws in stage one and three in stage two, but only the cortical breaching screws in stage one were ranked critical. In stage two, the planned entry points and the transverse angles of the anterior C2 screws could be simulated, whereas the declination angles could not be simulated due to intraoperative blockage of the drill bit and screwdriver by the upper teeth.
It was feasible to use individualized templates to guide transoral C2 screw placement. Thus, these drill templates combined with transoral atlantoaxial reduction plate-IV, may improve the accuracy of transoral C2 screw placement and reduce related neurovascular complications.
PMCID: PMC4255074  PMID: 25518033
Transoral Atlantoaxial Reduction Plate; Accuracy; Atlantoaxial Dislocation; Transoral Transpedicular Screw
21.  Intra-operative computer navigation guided cervical pedicle screw insertion in thirty-three complex cervical spine deformities 
Cervical pedicle screw fixation is challenging due to the small osseous morphometrics and the close proximity of neurovascular elements. Computer navigation has been reported to improve the accuracy of pedicle screw placement. There are very few studies assessing its efficacy in the presence of deformity. Also cervical pedicle screw insertion in children has not been described before. We evaluated the safety and accuracy of Iso-C 3D-navigated pedicle screws in the deformed cervical spine.
Materials and Methods:
Thirty-three patients including 15 children formed the study group. One hundred and forty-five cervical pedicle screws were inserted using Iso-C 3D-based computer navigation in patients undergoing cervical spine stabilization for craniovertebral junction anomalies, cervico-thoracic deformities and cervical instabilities due to trauma, post-surgery and degenerative disorders. The accuracy and containment of screw placement was assessed from postoperative computerized tomography scans.
One hundred and thirty (89.7%) screws were well contained inside the pedicles. Nine (6.1%) Type A and six (4.2%) Type B pedicle breaches were observed. In 136 levels, the screws were inserted in the classical description of pedicle screw application and in nine deformed vertebra, the screws were inserted in a non-classical fashion, taking purchase of the best bone stock. None of them had a critical breach. No patient had any neurovascular complications.
Iso-C navigation improves the safety and accuracy of pedicle screw insertion and is not only successful in achieving secure pedicle fixation but also in identifying the best available bone stock for three-column bone fixation in altered anatomy. The advantages conferred by cervical pedicle screws can be extended to the pediatric population also.
PMCID: PMC2944861  PMID: 20890413
Cervical spine; navigation; pediatric; pedicle screws
22.  Posterior Atalntoaxial Fusion with C1 Lateral Mass Screw and C2 Pedicle Screw Supplemented with Miniplate Fixation for Interlaminar Fusion : A Preliminary Report 
To investigate the feasibility of C1 lateral mass screw and C2 pedicle screw with polyaxial screw and rod system supplemented with miniplate for interlaminar fusion to treat various atlantoaxial instabilities.
After posterior atlantoaxial fixation with lateral mass screw in the atlas and pedicle screw in the axis, we used 2 miniplates to fixate interlaminar iliac bone graft instead of sublaminar wiring. We performed this procedure in thirteen patients who had atlantoaxial instabilities and retrospectively evaluated the bone fusion rate and complications.
By using this method, we have achieved excellent bone fusion comparing with the result of other methods without any complications related to this procedure.
C1 lateral mass screw and C2 pedicle screw with polyaxial screw and rod system supplemented with miniplate for interlaminar fusion may be an efficient alternative method to treat various atlantoaxial instabilities.
PMCID: PMC3467369  PMID: 23091670
Atalantoaxial stabilization; Cervical spine; Interlaminar fusion
23.  Subaxial subluxation after atlantoaxial transarticular screw fixation in rheumatoid patients 
European Spine Journal  2009;18(6):869-876.
The most common cervical abnormality associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is atlantoaxial subluxation, and atlantoaxial transarticular screw fixation has proved to be one of the most reliable, stable fixation techniques for treating atlantoaxial subluxation. Following C1–C2 fixation, however, subaxial subluxation reportedly can bring about neurological deterioration and require secondary operative interventions. Rheumatoid patients appear to have a higher risk, but there has been no systematic comparison between rheumatoid and non-rheumatoid patients. Contributing radiological factors to the subluxation have also not been evaluated. The objective of this study was to evaluate subaxial subluxation after atlantoaxial transarticular screw fixation in patients with and without RA and to find contributing factors. Forty-three patients who submitted to atlantoaxial transarticular screw fixation without any concomitant operation were followed up for more than 1 year. Subaxial subluxation and related radiological factors were evaluated by functional X-ray measurements. Statistical analyses showed that aggravations of subluxation of 2.5 mm or greater were more likely to occur in RA patients than in non-RA patients over an average of 4.2 years of follow-up, and postoperative subluxation occurred in the anterior direction in the upper cervical spine. X-ray evaluations revealed that such patients had a significantly smaller postoperative C2–C7 angle, and that the postoperative AA angle correlated negatively with this. Furthermore, anterior subluxation aggravation was significantly correlated with the perioperative atlantoaxial and C2–C7 angle changes, and these two changes were strongly correlated to each other. In conclusion, after atlantoaxial transarticular screw fixation, rheumatoid patients have a greater risk of developing subaxial subluxations. The increase of the atlantoaxial angel at the operation can lead to a decrease in the C2–C7 angle, followed by anterior subluxation of the upper cervical spine and possibly neurological deterioration.
PMCID: PMC2899668  PMID: 19337758
Atlantoaxial transarticular screw fixation; Atlantoaxial subluxation; Subaxial subluxation; Rheumatoid arthritis; Operative complications
24.  Three-dimensional computer-assisted navigation for the placement of cannulated hip screws. A pilot study 
International Orthopaedics  2012;36(7):1463-1469.
Medial femoral neck fractures are common, and closed reduction and internal fixation by three cannulated screws is an accepted method for the surgical treatment. Computer navigation for screw placement may reduce fluoroscopy time, the number of guidewire passes and optimise screw placement.
In the context of a sawbone study, a computer-assisted planning and navigation system based on 3D-imaging for guidewire placement in the femoral neck was tested to improve screw placement. Three screws were inserted into 12, intact, femoral sawbones using the conventional technique and into 12, intact, femoral sawbones guided by the computer-based navigation system. Guidewire and subsequent screw placement in the femoral neck were evaluated.
Use of the navigation system resulted in a significant reduction of the number of drilling attempts (p ≤ 0.05) and achieved optimised accuracy of implant placement by attaining significantly better screw parallelism (p ≤ 0.05) and significantly enlarged neck-width coverage by the three screws (p ≤ 0.0001). Computer assistance significantly increased the number of fluoroscopic images (p ≤ 0.001) and the operation time (p ≤ 0.0001).
Three-dimensional computer-assisted navigation improves accuracy of cannulated screw placement in femoral neck while increasing the number of fluoroscopic images and operation time. Additional studies including fractured sawbones and cadaver models with the goal of reducing operation time are indispensable before introduction of this navigation system into clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC3385907  PMID: 22358174
25.  C1 lateral mass screw-induced occipital neuralgia: a report of two cases 
European Spine Journal  2009;19(3):474-476.
C1–2 polyaxial screw-rod fixation is a relatively new technique. While recognizing the potential for inadvertent vertebral artery injury, there have been few reports in the literature outlining all the possible complications. Aim of this study is to review all cases of C1 lateral mass screws insertion with emphasis on the evaluation of potential structures at risk during the procedure. We retrospectively reviewed all patients in our unit who had C1 lateral mass screw insertion over a 2-year period. The C1 lateral mass screw was inserted as part of an atlantoaxial stabilization or incorporated into a modular occiput/subaxial construct. Outcome measures included clinical and radiological parameters. Clinical indicators included age, gender, neurologic status, surgical indication and the number of levels stabilized. Intraoperative complications including blood loss, vertebral artery injury or dural tears were recorded. Postoperative pain distribution and neurological deficit were recorded. Radiological indicators included postoperative plain radiographs to assess sagittal alignment and to check for screw malposition or construct failure. A total of 18 lateral mass screws were implanted in 9 patients. There were three male and six female patients who had C1 lateral mass screw insertion in this unit. Two patients had atlantoaxial stabilization for C2 fracture. There were four patients with rheumatoid arthritis whose C1 lateral mass screws were inserted as part of an occipitocervical or subaxial cervical stabilization. There was no vertebral artery injury, no cerebrospinal fluid leak and minimal blood loss in all patients. Three patients developed postoperative occipital neuralgia. This neuralgia was transient, in one of the patients having settled at 6-week follow-up. In the other two patients the neuralgia was unresolved at time of latest follow-up but was adequately controlled with appropriate pain management. Postoperatively no patient had radiographic evidence of construct failure and all demonstrated excellent sagittal alignment. It has been reported that the absence of threads on the upper portion of the long shank screw may protect against neural irritation. However, insertion of the C1 lateral mass screw necessitates careful caudal retraction of the C2 dorsal root ganglion. The insertion point for the C1 lateral mass screw is at the junction of the C1 posterior arch and the midpoint of the posterior inferior part of the C1 lateral mass. Two patients in our series suffered occipital neuralgia post-insertion of C1 lateral mass screws. This highlights the potential for damage to the C2 nerve root during C1 lateral mass screw placement.
PMCID: PMC2899762  PMID: 19856190
C1 lateral mass screw; Posterior atlantoaxial stabilization; Occipital neuralgia; C2 nerve root; C2 dorsal root ganglion

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