Computed tomographic evaluation of the normal adult odontoid-implications for internal fixation

Robert C. Nucci, Stacey Seigal, Andrew A. Merola, John Gorup, Kenneth J. Mroczek, Joseph Dryer, Richard I. Zipnick, Thomas R. Haher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations

Abstract

Study Design. Computed tomography scans of the dens were performed on patients who had no atlantoaxial pathology. Objectives. To determine whether one or two screws is optimal for fracture fixation and whether two screws can always negotiate the intramedullary odontoid cavity. Summary of Background Data. Fixation of Type II dens fractures traditionally has used C1-C2 posterior wiring and fusion. Two screws placed across an odontoid fracture as a method of rigid internal fixation also has been described. However, it is not known whether two screws can always negotiate the odontoid canal. Methods. Ninety-two consecutive computerized to-mography scans of the dens were performed on adults who had no atlantoaxial pathology. Measurements were taken from the scan and compared with the cross- sectional diameter of two odontoid screws. Results. The critical diameter for the placement of two 3.5-mm cortical screws with tapping was 9.0 mm. This dimension was present in 95% of the patients studied. Conclusions. Correct orientation of the computerized tomography scanner is critical for accurate measurements. Two 3.5-mm screws can be used in internal fixation of Type II dens fractures in 95% of the patients if the inner cortex is tapped.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-270
Number of pages7
JournalSpine
Volume20
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1995
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Computerized tomography scan
  • Fracture
  • Internal fixation
  • Odontoid

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