Eduardo Martinez-del-Campo, Jay D. Turner, Leonardo Rangel-Castilla, Hector Soriano-Baron, Samuel Kalb and Nicholas Theodore
If left untreated, occipitocervical (OC) instability may lead to serious neurological injury or death. Open internal fixation is often necessary to protect the neurovascular elements. This study reviews the etiologies for pediatric OC instability, analyzes the radiographic criteria for surgical intervention, discusses surgical fixation techniques, and evaluates long-term postoperative outcomes based on a single surgeon's experience.
The charts of all patients < 18 years old who underwent internal OC fixation conducted by the senior author were retrospectively reviewed. Forty consecutive patients were identified for analysis. Patient demographic data, OC junction pathology, radiological diagnostic tools, surgical indications, and outcomes are reported.
The study population consisted of 20 boys and 20 girls, with a mean age of 7.3 years. Trauma (45% [n = 18]) was the most common cause of instability, followed by congenital etiologies (37.5% [n = 15]). The condyle-C1 interval had a diagnostic sensitivity of 100% for atlantooccipital dislocation. The median number of fixated segments was 5 (occiput–C4). Structural bone grafts were used in all patients. Postsurgical neurological improvement was seen in 88.2% (15/17) of patients with chronic myelopathy and in 25% (1/4) of patients with acute myelopathy. Preoperatively, 42.5% (17/40) of patients were neurologically intact and remained unchanged at last follow-up, 42.5% (17/40) had neurological improvement, 12.5% (5/40) remained unchanged, and 2.5% (1/40) deteriorated. All patients had successful fusion at 1-year follow-up. The complication rate was 7.5% (3/40), including 1 case of vertebral artery injury.
Occipitocervical fixation is safe in children and provides immediate immobilization, with excellent survival and arthrodesis rates. Of the radiographic tools evaluated, the condyle-C1 interval was the most predictive of atlantooccipital dislocation.
Eduardo Martinez-del-Campo, Samuel Kalb, Hector Soriano-Baron, Jay D. Turner, Matthew T. Neal, Timothy Uschold and Nicholas Theodore
Atlantooccipital dislocation (AOD) in adults cannot be diagnosed with adequate specificity and sensitivity using only CT or plain radiography, and the spine literature offers no guidelines. In children, the most sensitive and specific radiographic measurement for the diagnosis of AOD is the CT-based occipital condyle–C1 interval (CCI). The goal of the current study was to identify the normal CCI in healthy adults and compare it with the CCI in adults with AOD to establish a highly sensitive and specific cutoff value for the neuroimaging diagnosis of AOD.
A total of 81 patients, 59 without AOD and 22 with AOD, were included in this study. Measurements obtained from thin-slice CT scans of the craniovertebral joint to assess atlantooccipital dislocation included the CCI, condylar sum, the Wholey and Harris intervals, Powers and Sun ratios, Wackenheim line, and Lee X-lines.
The group of patients without AOD included 30 men (50.8%) and 29 women (49.2%) with a mean age of 42.4 ± 16 years (range 19–87 years). The group of patients with AOD included 10 men (45.5%) and 12 women (54.5%) with a mean age of 38.2 ± 9.7 years (range 20–56 years). Interrater reliabilities within a 95% CI were all greater than 0.98 for CCI measurements. A total of 1296 measurements of the CCI were made in 81 patients. The mean CCI for non-AOD patients was 0.89 ± 0.12 mm, the single largest CCI measurement was 1.4 mm, and the largest mean for either right or left CCI was 1.2 mm. The mean condylar sum was 1.8 ± 0.2 mm, and the largest condylar sum value was 2.2 mm. Linear regression with age predicted an increase in CCI of 0.001 mm/year (p < 0.05). The mean CCI in AOD patients was 3.35 ± 0.18 mm (range 1.5 mm–6.4 mm). The shortest single CCI measurements in the AOD patients were 1.1 mm and 1.2 mm. The mean condylar sum for all 22 AOD patients was 6.7 ± 2.7 mm and the shortest condylar sums were 3.0 mm. Cutoff values for AOD were set at 1.5 mm for the CCI and 3.0 mm for the condylar sum, both with a sensitivity of 1 and false-negative rate of 0. Sensitivity for the Powers, Wholey, Harris, Sun, Wackenheim, and Lee criteria were determined to be 0.55, 0.46, 0.27, 0.23, 0.41, and 0.41, respectively.
The CCI is shorter in adult patients as opposed to the pediatric population. The revised CCI (1.5 mm) and condylar sum (3.0 mm) cutoff values have the highest sensitivity and specificity for the diagnosis of AOD in the adult population.
Eduardo Martinez-del-Campo, Jay D. Turner, Hector Soriano-Baron, Anna G. U. S. Newcomb, Samuel Kalb and Nicholas Theodore
The authors assessed the rate of vertebral growth, curvature, and alignment for multilevel constructs in the cervical spine after occipitocervical fixation (OCF) in pediatric patients and compared these results with those in published reports of growth in normal children.
The authors assessed cervical spine radiographs and CT images of 18 patients who underwent occipitocervical arthrodesis. Measurements were made using postoperative and follow-up images available for 16 patients to determine cervical alignment (cervical spine alignment [CSA], C1–7 sagittal vertical axis [SVA], and C2–7 SVA) and curvature (cervical spine curvature [CSC] and C2–7 lordosis angle). Seventeen patients had postoperative and follow-up images available with which to measure vertebral body height (VBH), vertebral body width (VBW), and vertical growth percentage (VG%—that is, percentage change from postoperative to follow-up). Results for cervical spine growth were compared with normal parameters of 456 patients previously reported on in 2 studies.
Ten patients were girls and 8 were boys; their mean age was 6.7 ± 3.2 years. Constructs spanned occiput (Oc)–C2 (n = 2), Oc–C3 (n = 7), and Oc–C4 (n = 9). The mean duration of follow-up was 44.4 months (range 24–101 months). Comparison of postoperative to follow-up measures showed that the mean CSA increased by 1.8 ± 2.9 mm (p < 0.01); the mean C2–7 SVA and C1–7 SVA increased by 2.3 mm and 2.7 mm, respectively (p = 0.3); the mean CSC changed by −8.7° (p < 0.01) and the mean C2–7 lordosis angle changed by 2.6° (p = 0.5); and the cumulative mean VG% of the instrumented levels (C2–4) provided 51.5% of the total cervical growth (C2–7). The annual vertical growth rate was 4.4 mm/year. The VBW growth from C2–4 ranged from 13.9% to 16.6% (p < 0.001). The VBW of C-2 in instrumented patients appeared to be of a smaller diameter than that of normal patients, especially among those aged 5 to < 10 years and 10–15 years, with an increased diameter at the immediately inferior vertebral bodies compensating for the decreased width. No cervical deformation, malalignment, or detrimental clinical status was evident in any patient.
The craniovertebral junction and the upper cervical spine continue to present normal growth, curvature, and alignment parameters in children with OCF constructs spanning a distance as long as Oc–C4.