Objective: We performed a biomechanical comparison of several C1 to C2 fixation techniques including crossed laminar (intralaminar) screw fixation, anterior C1 to C2 transarticular screw fixation, C1 to 2 pedicle screw fixation, and posterior C1 to C2 transarticular screw fixation.
Methods: Eight cadaveric cervical spines were tested intact and after dens fracture. Four different C1 to C2 screw fixation techniques were tested. Posterior transarticular and pedicle screw constructs were tested twice, once with supplemental sublaminar cables and once without cables. The specimens were tested in three modes of loading: flexion-extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation. All tests were performed in load and torque control. Pure bending moments of 2 nm were applied in flexion-extension and lateral bending, whereas a 1 nm moment was applied in axial rotation. Linear displacements were recorded from extensometers rigidly affixed to the C1 and C2 vertebrae. Linear displacements were reduced to angular displacements using trigonometry.
Results: Adding cable fixation results in a stiffer construct for posterior transarticular screws. The addition of cables did not affect the stiffness of C1 to C2 pedicle screw constructs. There were no significant differences in stiffness between anterior and posterior transarticular screw techniques, unless cable fixation was added to the posterior construct. All three posterior screw constructs with supplemental cable fixation provide equal stiffness with regard to flexion-extension and axial rotation. C1 lateral mass-C2 intralaminar screw fixation restored resistance to lateral bending but not to the same degree as the other screw fixation techniques.
Conclusion: All four screw fixation techniques limit motion at the C1 to 2 articulation. The addition of cable fixation improves resistance to flexion and extension for posterior transarticular screw fixation.