Christian-Andreas Mueller, Lukas Roesseler, Martin Podlogar, Attlila Kovacs, Rudolf Andreas Kristof

April 2010, Volume 19, Issue 5, pp 809 - 814 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-010-1291-3

First Online: 06 February 2010

The objective of the study was to describe the technique, accuracy of placement and complications of transpedicular C2 screw fixation without spinal navigation. Patients treated by C2 pedicle screw fixations were identified from the surgical log book of the department. Clinical data were extracted retrospectively from the patients’ charts. Pedicle screw placement accuracy was assessed on postoperative CT scans according to Gertzbein and Robbins (GRGr). A total of 27 patients were included in the study. The mean age of the patients was 56 ± 22.0 years; 51.9% of them were female. As much as 17 patients suffered from trauma, 5 of degenerative disease, 3 of inflammations and 2 of metastatic disease. A total of 47 C2 transpedicular screw fixations were performed. The canulated screws were inserted under visual control following the preparation of the superior surface of the isthmus and of the medial surface of the pedicles of the C2. Intraoperative fluoroscopy was additionally used. The postoperative CT findings showed in 55.3% GRGr 1, in 27.7% GRGr 2, in 10.6% GRGr 3, and in 6.3% GRGr 4 pedicle screw insertion accuracy. Screw insertions GRGr 5 were not observed. Screw malpositioning (i.e., GRGr 3 and 4) was significantly associated with thin (<5 mm) pedicle diameters and with surgery for C2 fractures. In the three patients with screw insertions GRGr 4, postoperative angiographies were performed to exclude vertebral artery affections. In one of these three cases, the screw caused a clinically asymptomatic vertebral artery compression. Hardware failures did not occur. In one patient, postoperative pneumonia resulted in the death of the patient. Careful patient selection and surgical technique is necessary to avoid vertebral artery injury in C2 pedicle screw fixation without spinal navigation. A slight opening of the vertebral artery canal (Gertzbein and Robbins grade ≤3) does not seem to put the artery at risk. However, the high rate of misplaced screws when inserted without spinal navigation, despite the fact that no neurovascular injury occurred, supports the use of spinal navigation in C2 pedicle screw insertions.

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