Biomechanical evaluation of two alternative techniques to the Goel-Harms technique for atlantoaxial fixation: C1 lateral mass–C2 bicortical translaminar screw fixation and C1 lateral mass–C2/3 transarticular screw fixation

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OBJECTIVE

The authors conducted a study to investigate the biomechanical feasibility and stability of C1 lateral mass–C2 bicortical translaminar screw (C1LM-C2TL) fixation, C1 lateral mass–C2/3 transarticular screw (C1LM-C2/3TA) fixation, and C1LM-C2/3TA fixation with transverse cross-links (C1LM-C2/3TACL) as alternative techniques to the Goel-Harms technique (C1 lateral mass–C2 pedicle screw [C1LM-C2PS] fixation) for atlantoaxial fixation.

METHODS

Eight human cadaveric cervical spines (occiput–C7) were tested using an industrial robot. Pure moments that were a maximum of 1.5 Nm were applied in flexion-extension (FE), lateral bending (LB), and axial rotation (AR). The specimens were first tested in the intact state and followed by destabilization (a type II odontoid fracture) and fixation as follows: C1LM-C2PS, C1LM-C2TL, C1LM-C2/3TA, and C1LM-C2/3TACL. For each condition, the authors evaluated the range of motion and neutral zone across C1 and C2 in all directions.

RESULTS

Compared with the intact spine, each instrumented spine significantly increased in stability at the C1–2 segment. C1LM-C2TL fixation demonstrated similar stability in FE and LB and greater stability in AR than C1LM-C2PS fixation. C1LM-C2/3TA fixation was equivalent in LB and superior in FE to those of C1LM-C2PS and C1LM-C2TL fixation. During AR, the C1LM-C2/3TA–instrumented spine failed to maintain segmental stability. After adding a cross-link, the rotational stability was significantly increased in the C1LM-C2/3TACL–instrumented spine compared with the C1LM-C2/3TA–instrumented spine. Although inferior to C1LM-C2TL fixation, the C1LM-C2/3TACL–instrumented spine showed equivalent rotational stability to the C1LM-C2PS–instrumented spine.

CONCLUSIONS

On the basis of our biomechanical study, C1LM-C2TL and C1LM-C2/3TACL fixation resulted in satisfactory atlantoaxial stabilization compared with C1LM-C2PS. Therefore, the authors believe that the C1LM-C2TL and C1LM-C2/3TACL fixation may serve as alternative procedures when the Goel-Harms technique (C1LM-C2PS) is not feasible due to anatomical constraints.

ABBREVIATIONS AR = axial rotation; C1LM-C2PS = C1 lateral mass–C2 pedicle screw; C1LM-C2TL = C1 lateral mass–C2 bicortical translaminar screw; C1LM-C2/3TA = C1 lateral mass–C2/3 transarticular screw; C1LM-C2/3TACL = C1LM-C2/3TA fixation with transverse cross-links; FE = flexion-extension; LB = lateral bending; NZ = neutral zone; ROM = range of motion.
Article Information

Contributor Notes

Correspondence Yi-Heng Yin: Chinese PLA General Hospital, Beijing, China. yihengyin@aliyun.com.INCLUDE WHEN CITING Published online January 17, 2020; DOI: 10.3171/2019.11.SPINE191178.

Y.Q.D. and T.L. contributed equally to this work.

Disclosures The authors report no conflict of interest concerning the materials or methods used in this study or the findings specified in this paper.
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