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  • Author or Editor: L. Fernando Gonzalez x
  • By Author: Dickman, Curtis A. x
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L. Fernando Gonzalez, Jeffrey D. Klopfenstein, Neil R. Crawford, Curtis A. Dickman and Volker K. H. Sonntag

✓ Occipitoatlantal dislocation and atlantoaxial vertical distraction are caused by similar mechanisms, and few individuals survive these injuries. It is hypothesized that the injurious vertical force manifests as a traumatic lesion at different levels of the same ligamentous complex. The authors report the cases of two patients who presented with this combined lesion, describe surgical alternatives for stabilization, and introduce a new technique that combines the use of transarticular screws in a “dual” construct, without involving the unaffected spine.

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L. Fernando Gonzalez, Neil R. Crawford, Robert H. Chamberlain, Luis E. Perez Garza, Mark C. Preul, Volker K. H. Sonntag and Curtis A. Dickman

Object. The authors compared the biomechanical stability resulting from the use of a new technique for occipitoatlantal motion segment fixation with an established method and assessed the additional stability provided by combining the two techniques.

Methods. Specimens were loaded using nonconstraining pure moments while recording the three-dimensional angular movement at occiput (Oc)—C1 and C1–2. Specimens were tested intact and after destabilization and fixation as follows: 1) Oc—C1 transarticular screws plus C1–2 transarticular screws; 2) occipitocervical transarticular (OCTA) plate in which C1–2 transarticular screws attach to a loop from Oc to C-2; and (3) OCTA plate plus Oc—C1 transarticular screws.

Occipitoatlantal transarticular screws reduced motion to well within the normal range. The OCTA loop and transarticular screws allowed a very small neutral zone, elastic zone, and range of motion during lateral bending and axial rotation. The transarticular screws, however, were less effective than the OCTA loop in resisting flexion and extension.

Conclusions. Biomechanically, Oc—C1 transarticular screws performed well enough to be considered as an alternative for Oc—C1 fixation, especially when instability at C1–2 is minimal. Techniques for augmenting these screws posteriorly by using a wired bone graft buttress, as is currently undertaken with C1–2 transarticular screws, may be needed for optimal performance.