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Gerald E. Rodts Jr., Griffin R. Baum, Fermin G. Stewart and John G. Heller

The authors report the case of a patient who suffered a Jefferson fracture during a professional football game. The C-1 (atlas) fracture was widely displaced anteriorly, but the transverse ligament was intact. In an effort to enable a return to play and avoid intersegmental (C1–2) fusion, the patient underwent a transoral approach for open reduction and internal fixation of the fracture. The associated posterior ring fracture displacement widened after this procedure, and a subsequent posterior arthrodesis and fixation of the fracture site was performed 6 months later when the fracture failed to heal with rigid collar immobilization. The approach maintained the normal range of motion at the atlantoaxial and atlantooccipital joints, which would have been sacrificed by an atlantoaxial or occipitocervical fusion, as is traditionally performed. Ultimately, the patient decided not to return to the football field, but this approach could avoid the more significant loss of motion associated with atlantoaxial or occipitocervical fusion for unstable Jefferson fractures.

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Vijay M. Ravindra, Kaine Onwuzulike, Robert S. Heller, Robert Quigley, John Smith, Andrew T. Dailey and Douglas L. Brockmeyer

OBJECTIVE

Previous reports have addressed the short-term response of patients with Chiari-related scoliosis (CRS) to suboccipital decompression and duraplasty (SODD); however, the long-term behavior of the curve has not been well defined. The authors undertook a longitudinal study of a cohort of patients who underwent SODD for CRS to determine whether there are factors related to Chiari malformation (CM) that predict long-term scoliotic curve behavior and need for deformity correction.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed cases in which patients underwent SODD for CRS during a 14-year period at a single center. Clinical (age, sex, and associated disorders/syndromes) and radiographic (CM type, tonsillar descent, pBC2 line, clival-axial angle [CXA], syrinx length and level, and initial Cobb angle) information was evaluated to identify associations with the primary outcome: delayed thoracolumbar fusion for progressive scoliosis.

RESULTS

Twenty-eight patients were identified, but 4 were lost to follow-up and 1 underwent fusion within a year. Among the remaining 23 patients, 11 required fusion surgery at an average of 88.3 ± 15.4 months after SODD, including 7 (30%) who needed fusion more than 5 years after SODD. On univariate analysis, a lower CXA (131.5° ± 4.8° vs 146.5° ± 4.6°, p = 0.034), pBC2 > 9 mm (64% vs 25%, p = 0.06), and higher initial Cobb angle (35.1° ± 3.6° vs 22.8° ± 4.0°, p = 0.035) were associated with the need for thoracolumbar fusion. Multivariable modeling revealed that lower CXA was independently associated with a need for delayed thoracolumbar fusion (OR 1.12, p = 0.0128).

CONCLUSIONS

This investigation demonstrates the long-term outcome and natural history of CRS after SODD. The durability of the effect of SODD on CRS and curve behavior is poor, with late curve progression occurring in 30% of patients. Factors associated with CRS progression include an initial pBC2 > 9 mm, lower CXA, and higher Cobb angle. Lower CXA was an independent predictor of delayed thoracolumbar fusion. Further study is necessary on a larger cohort of patients to fully elucidate this relationship.