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Christopher Wilson, Mariana Hoyos, Andrew Huh, Blake Priddy, Stephen Avila, Stephen Mendenhall, Miracle C. Anokwute, George J. Eckert, and David W. Stockwell

OBJECTIVE

Type II odontoid fractures may be managed operatively or nonoperatively. If managed with bracing, bony union may never occur despite stability. This phenomenon is termed fibrous union. The authors aimed to determine associations with stable fibrous union and compare the morbidity of patients managed operatively and nonoperatively.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective review of their spine trauma database for adults with type II odontoid fractures between 2015 and 2019. Two-sample t-tests and Fisher’s exact tests identified associations with follow-up stability and were used to compare operative and nonoperative outcomes. Sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values were calculated to validate initial stable upright cervical radiographs related to follow-up stability.

RESULTS

Among 88 patients, 10% received upfront surgical fixation, and 90% were managed nonoperatively, of whom 22% had fracture instability on follow-up. Associations with instability after nonoperative management include myelopathy (OR 0.04, 95% CI 0.0–0.92), cerebrovascular disease (OR 0.23, 95% CI 0.06–1.0), and dens displacement ≥ 2 mm (OR 0.29, 95% CI 0.07–1.0). Advanced age was not associated with follow-up instability. Initial stability on upright radiographs was associated with stability on follow-up (OR 4.29, 95% CI 1.0–18) with excellent sensitivity and positive predictive value (sensitivity 89%, specificity 35%, positive predictive value 83%, and negative predictive value 46%). The overall complication rate and respiratory failure requiring ventilation on individual complication analysis were more common in operatively managed patients (33% vs 3%, respectively; p = 0.007), even though they were generally younger and healthier than those managed nonoperatively. Operative or nonoperative management conferred no difference in length of hospital or ICU stay, discharge disposition, or mortality.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors delineate the validity of upright cervical radiographs on presentation in association with follow-up stability in type II odontoid fractures. In their experience, factors associated with instability included cervical myelopathy, cerebrovascular disease, and fracture displacement but not increased age. Operatively managed patients had higher complication rates than those managed without surgery. Fibrous union, which can occur with nonoperative management, provided adequate stability.

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Luke G. McVeigh, Miracle C. Anokwute, Ahmed Belal, Natasha V. Raman, Kristin Zieles, Konrad M. Szymanski, Rosalia Misseri, and Andrew Jea

OBJECTIVE

Tethered cord syndrome (TCS) is a clinical and radiographic diagnosis of pathological stretching of the spinal cord leading to progressive loss of neurological function. The gold standard treatment for TCS is a tethered cord release. However, detethering involves significant risks of spinal cord injury and high rates of retethering. To mitigate these risks, the concept of spinal column shortening (SCS) to decrease spinal cord tension has become an alternative to detethering. In this study, the authors applied SCS to a pediatric and emerging adult population affected by secondary TCS.

METHODS

A retrospective review of a prospective database at the authors’ tertiary pediatric institution was performed. The Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory, patient- and parent-reported outcomes, and urodynamics were used to evaluate the outcomes of TCS treated with SCS.

RESULTS

A total of 41 patients with secondary TCS were treated with SCS. The average age at the time of surgery was 15.9 years (range 5–55 years). Preoperative symptoms evaluated included pain (33 patients), weakness (30 patients), and bladder/bowel dysfunction (39 patients). The most common level of spinal column osteotomy was T12, with spinal fusion between T10 and L2. The mean follow-up time was 22.6 months (range 8–45 months). For patients with at least 12 months of follow-up, subjective clinical improvements were reported in 21/23 (91.3%) of those with preoperative pain (p < 0.01); in 16/24 (66.7%) of patients with weakness (p < 0.01), and in 15/29 (51.7%) of those with bladder/bowel dysfunction (p < 0.01). The median differences in initial and most recent Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory results were +5 for patient-reported scores (n = 19, p = 0.04) and +5 for parent-reported scores (n = 19, p = 0.08). Formal urodynamics performed at a median of 3.5 months after surgery documented stable to improved bladder function in 16/17 patients, with a median improvement in one classification category (n = 17, p = 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS

SCS continues to represent a safe and efficacious alternative to traditional spinal cord untethering for TCS in children and emerging adults, as documented by objective formal urodynamics and patient- and parent-reported outcomes.