Odontoid fractures, often in combination with C1 fractures, are a common fracture of the cervical spine in geriatric patients. The optimal treatment of this fracture in this patient population is often controversial. We report the surgical outcome of unstable type II odontoid fractures in the elderly.
8 patients (median age, 80.5 years; range, 72-93) with unstable type II odontoid fractures according to the Anderson and d'Alonzo classification were included in this prospective study. 2 patients sustained a C1 fracture (1 had an unstable type III fracture according to the Gehweiler classification, and 1 had a stable type III fracture). There were no neurological complications. All patients were classified as ASA class III. 7 patients were treated with anterior odontoid double-screw compression osteosynthesis followed by a firm neck support for 6 weeks. 1 patient with an unstable C1 and C2 fracture was treated with an occipital cervical (C2) fusion in combination with a C1-C2 fusion according to Magerl technique. Follow-up was 18 months.
No deaths occurred during the study period. All patients demonstrated fracture healing at followup. Median length of hospital stay was 31.4 days (range, 16-64). Preexisting comorbidities complicated final outcome in 2 patients, both of whom received a temporary tracheostomy for respiratory failure.
Type II odontoid fracture healing can occur predictably with anterior double-screw compression osteosynthesis. The outcome in this patient population may be complicated by preexisting medical comorbidities.
2006. Vol. 12, no 2, 12-19 p.