Prashant Chittiboina, Esther Wylen, Alan Ogden, Debi P. Mukherjee, Prasad Vannemreddy and Anil Nanda
Surgical management of unstable traumatic spondylolisthesis of the axis includes both posterior and anterior fusion methods. The authors performed a biomechanical study to evaluate the relative stability of anterior fixation at C2–3 and posterior fixation of C-1 through C-3 in hangman's fractures.
Fresh-frozen cadaveric spine specimens (occipital level to T-2) were subjected to stepwise destabilization of the C1–2 complex, replicating a Type II hangman's fracture. Intact specimens, fractured specimens, and fractured specimens with either anterior screw and plate or posterior screw and rod fixation were each tested for stability. Each spine was subjected to separate right and left rotation, bending, flexion, and extension testing.
Anterior fixation restored stiffness in flexion and extension movements to values greater than those for intact specimens. For other movement parameters, the values approximated those for intact specimens. Posterior fixation increased the stiffness to above those values seen for anterior fixation specimens.
In cadaveric spine specimens subjected to a Type II hangman's fracture, both anterior fixation at C2–3 and posterior fixation with C-1 lateral mass screws and C-2 and C-3 pedicle screws resulted in a consistent increase in stiffness, and hence in stability, over intact specimens.
Ali Nourbakhsh, Shashikant Patil, Prasad Vannemreddy, Alan Ogden, Debi Mukherjee and Anil Nanda
Anterior screw fixation of the Type II odontoid fracture stabilizes the odontoid without restricting the motion of the cervical spine. The metal screw may limit bone remodeling because of stress shielding (if not placed properly) and limit imaging of the fracture. The use of bioabsorbable screws can overcome such shortcomings of the metal screws. The purpose of this study was to compare the strength of a 5-mm bioabsorbable screw with single 4-mm metal and double 3.5-mm lag screw fixation for Type II fractures of the odontoid process.
Three different modalities of anterior screw fixation were used in 19 C-2 vertebrae. These fixation methods consisted of a single 5-mm cannulated bioabsorbable lag screw (Group A), a single 4-mm cannulated titanium lag screw (Group B), and two 3.5-mm cannulated titanium lag screws (Group C). Anteroposterior (AP) stiffness and rotational stiffness were evaluated in all constructs.
There was no statistical difference among the ages of the cadavers in each group (p = 0.52). The AP bending stiffness in Groups A, B, and C was 117 ± 86, 66 ± 43, and 305 ± 130 Nm/mm, respectively. The AP bending stiffness in Group C was significantly higher than that in Groups A and B (p = 0.01 and p = 0.001, respectively). The difference in AP bending stiffness values of bioabsorbable and 4-mm metal screws was not statistically significant (p = 0.23). The rotational stiffness of the double 3.5-mm metal screws was significantly greater than that of the 5-mm bioabsorbable and the 4-mm titanium screws.
Double screw fixation with 3.5-mm screws provides the stiffest construct in Type II odontoid fractures. Bioabsorbable lag screws (5 mm) have the same AP bending and rotational stiffness as the single titanium lag screw (4 mm) in odontoid fractures.