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Lauren M. Burke, Warren D. Yu, Anthony Ho, Timothy Wagner and Joseph R. O'Brien


Anatomical variability of the C-2 pedicle poses a challenge for C-2 fixation. The use of multidimensional CT scanning is not widely used but might be an asset to preoperative planning. Careful preoperative planning is imperative for instrumentation at C-2. Fine-cut, noncontrast CT scanning is a useful tool for delineating anatomy; however, the axis of the images is not always along the anatomical axis of the vertebra in question. The authors evaluated the suitability of C-2 pedicles for screw placement by using OsiriX (Pixmeo) software to change the gantry angle of CT angiograms to measure the anatomical dimensions of the C-2 pedicle.


The authors conducted a retrospective review of CT angiograms of the head and neck from 47 trauma patients seen consecutively at George Washington University Hospital. For each patient, 3 independent observers determined length and width of each C-2 pedicle (94 samples) by using OsiriX. OsiriX is a DICOM viewer that enables navigation and visualization in multidimensional imaging, such as 3D imaging, which was used for this study. Sex-specific measurements were also determined. Vertebral anatomy was studied to determine whether aberrant anatomy would preclude pedicle fixation. Statistical analyses were performed.


Of the 47 patients, 27 were male. Overall mean C-2 pedicle widths and lengths were 8.272 ± 1.364 mm and 27.052 ± 3.471 mm, respectively. The average widths and lengths of the pedicle in female patients were 8.040 ± 1.262 mm and 27.241 ± 2.731 mm, respectively, and those in male patients were 8.444 ± 1.414 mm and 26.913 ± 3.933 mm, respectively. The sex difference was statistically significant for width (p = 0.012) but not for length (p = 0.41). On the basis of width, the percentages of pedicles that could tolerate a 3.5-mm and 4.0-mm screw were 98% and 97%, respectively. Vertebral anatomy precluded screw length greater than 14 mm for only 3 patients.


Using multidimensional CT or 3D imaging, the authors found that C-2 pedicles in over 90% of patients could tolerate 3.5-mm and 4.0-mm pedicle screws. Vertebral anatomy precluded use of screw lengths greater than 14 mm for only 3 (6%) of 47 patients. Therefore, the C-2 pedicle might be more tolerant of fixation than previously reported.