Atlantoaxial stabilization: clinical comparison of posterior cervical wiring technique with transarticular screw fixation

J Spinal Disord Tech. 2003 Jun;16(3):248-53. doi: 10.1097/00024720-200306000-00004.


Symptomatic atlantoaxial instability requires atlantoaxial stabilization. In this study the authors compared clinical, radiographic, and cervical outcome questionnaire results in 67 such patients who underwent 71 separate procedures. Thirty-eight patients had traditional posterior C1-C2 cervical wiring and halo-vest immobilization (group 1), whereas 33 were alternatively managed with transarticular screw fixation without rigid external immobilization (group 2). Mean follow-up in group 1 was 53.2 months and mean follow-up in group 2 was 41.0 months. Radiographic evaluation demonstrated seven pseudoarthroses and four fibrous unions in group 1, with six patients subsequently undergoing reoperation. There were no pseudoarthroses and two fibrous unions in the transarticular screw group (p = 0.015). In those that fused, >2-mm displacement occurred in six of the group 1 patients (p = 0.027). There was a trend toward fewer complications in group 2 patients (p = 0.085) with four complications, as compared with 12 complications in group 1, including a 21% incidence of halo-vest-related complications. These results demonstrate the significant benefits of transarticular screw fixation over posterior cervical wiring techniques in the management of atlantoaxial instability.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Atlanto-Axial Joint / diagnostic imaging
  • Atlanto-Axial Joint / surgery*
  • Bone Screws*
  • Bone Wires*
  • Cervical Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Cervical Vertebrae / surgery
  • External Fixators
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / diagnosis
  • Joint Instability / diagnostic imaging
  • Joint Instability / surgery*
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Fusion / instrumentation*
  • Spinal Fusion / methods
  • Treatment Outcome