Cement-augmented anterior screw fixation of Type II odontoid fractures in elderly patients with osteoporosis

Hendrik Kohlhof, Ulrich Seidel, Sven Hoppe, Marius J Keel, Lorin M Benneker
Spine Journal: Official Journal of the North American Spine Society 2013, 13 (12): 1858-63

BACKGROUND CONTEXT: Closed reduction and internal fixation by an anterior approach is an established option for operative treatment of displaced Type II odontoid fractures. In elderly patients, however, inadequate screw purchase in osteoporotic bone can result in severe procedure-related complications.

PURPOSE: To improve the stability of odontoid fracture screw fixation in the elderly using a new technique that includes injection of polymethylmethacrylat (PMMA) cement into the C2 body.

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective review of hospital and outpatient records as well as radiographs of elderly patients treated in a university hospital department of orthopedic surgery.

PATIENT SAMPLE: Twenty-four elderly patients (8 males and 16 females; mean age, 81 years; range, 62-98 years) with Type II fractures of the dens.

OUTCOME MEASURES: Complications, cement leakage (symptomatic/asymptomatic), operation time, loss of reduction, pseudarthrosis and revision surgery, patient complaints, return to normal activities, and signs of neurologic complications were all documented.

METHODS: After closed reduction and anterior approach to the inferior border of C2, a guide wire is advanced to the tip of the odontoid under biplanar fluoroscopic control. Before the insertion of one cannulated, self-drilling, short thread screws, a 12 gauge Yamshidi cannula is inserted from anterior and 1 to 3 mL of high-viscosity PMMA cement is injected into the anteroinferior portion of the C2 body. During polymerization of the cement, the screws are further inserted using a lag-screw compression technique. The cervical spine then is immobilized with a soft collar for 8 weeks postoperatively.

RESULTS: Anatomical reduction of the dens was achieved in all 24 patients. Mean operative time was 64 minutes (40-90 minutes). Early loss of reduction occurred in three patients, but revision surgery was indicated in only one patient 2 days after primary surgery. One patient died within the first eight postoperative weeks, one within 3 months after surgery. In five patients, asymptomatic cement leakage was observed (into the C1-C2 joint in three patients, into the fracture in two). Conventional radiologic follow-up at 2 and 6 months confirmed anatomical healing in 16 of the 19 patients with complete follow-up. In two patients, the fractures healed in slight dorsal angulation; one patient developed a asymptomatic pseudarthrosis. All patients were able to resume their pretrauma level of activity.

CONCLUSIONS: Cement augmentation of the screw in Type II odontoid fractures in elderly patients is technically feasible in a clinical setting with a low complication rate. This technique may improve screw purchase, especially in the osteoporotic C2 body.

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