To avoid jeopardizing an aberrant vertebral artery, there are three common options in placing a C2 screw, including pedicle, pars, and translaminar screws. Although biomechanical studies have demonstrated similar strength among these C2 screws in vitro, there are limited clinical data to address their differences in vivo. When different screws were placed in each side, few reports have compared the outcomes. The present study aimed to evaluate these multiple combinations of C2 screws.
Consecutive adult patients who underwent posterior atlantoaxial (AA) fixation were retrospectively reviewed. Every patient uniformly had bilateral C1 lateral mass screws in conjunction with 2 C2 screws (1 C2 screw on each side chosen among the three options: pedicle, pars, or translaminar screws, based on individualized anatomical consideration). These patients were then grouped according to the different combinations of C2 screws for comparison of the outcomes.
A total of 63 patients were analyzed, with a mean follow-up of 34.3 months. There were five kinds of construct combinations of the C2 screws: 2 pedicle screws (the Ped-Ped group, n = 24), 2 translaminar screws (the La-La group, n = 7), 2 pars screws (the Pars-Pars group, n = 6), 1 pedicle and 1 pars screw (the Ped-Pars group, n = 7), and 1 pedicle and 1 translaminar screw (the Ped-La group, n = 19). The rate of successful fixation in each of the groups was 100%, 57.1%, 100%, 100%, and 78.9% (Ped-Ped, La-La, Par-Par, Ped-Par, and Ped-La, respectively). The patients who had no translaminar screw had a higher rate of success than those who had 1 or 2 translaminar screws (100% vs 73.1%, p = 0.0009). Among the 5 kinds of construct combinations, 2 C2 pedicle screws (the Ped-Ped group) had higher rates of success than 1 C2 pedicle and 1 C2 translaminar screw (the Ped-La group, p = 0.018). Overall, the rate of successful fixation was 87.3% (55/63). There were 7 patients (4 in the Ped-La group and 3 in the La-La group) who lost fixation/reduction, and they all had at least 1 translaminar screw.
In AA fixation, C2 pedicle or pars screws or a combination of both provided very high success rates. Involvement of 1 or 2 C2 translaminar screws in the construct significantly lowered success rates. Therefore, a C2 pars screw is recommended over a translaminar screw.