Most cases of traumatic spondylolisthesis of the axis (hangman's fracture) can be treated nonoperatively with reduction and subsequent immobilization in a rigid cervical collar or halo. However, in some instances, operative management is necessary and can be accomplished by using either anterior or posterior fusion techniques. Because open posterior procedures can result in significant blood loss, pain, and limited cervical range of motion, other less invasive options for posterior fixation are needed. The authors describe a minimally invasive, navigation-guided technique for surgical treatment of Levine-Edwards (L-E) Type II hangman's fractures.
For 5 patients with L-E Type II hangman's fracture requiring operative reduction and internal fixation, percutaneous screw fixation directed through the fracture site was performed. This technique was facilitated by use of intraoperative 3D fluoroscopy and neuronavigation.
Of the 5 patients, 2 were women, 3 were men, and age range was 46–67 years. No intraoperative or postoperative complications occurred. All patients wore a rigid cervical collar, and flexion-extension radiographs were obtained at 6 months. For all patients, dynamic imaging demonstrated a stable construct.
L-E type II hangman's fractures can be safely repaired by using percutaneous minimally invasive surgical techniques. This technique may be appropriate, depending on circumstances, for all L-E Type I and II hangman's fractures; however, the degree of associated ligament injury and disc disruption must be accounted for. Percutaneous fixation is not appropriate for L-E Type III fractures because of significant displacement and ligament and disc disruption. This report is meant to serve as a feasibility study and is not meant to show superiority of this procedure over other surgical options.