Surgical Intervention for Instability of the Craniovertebral Junction

Neurol Med Chir (Tokyo). 2016 Aug 15;56(8):465-75. doi: 10.2176/nmc.ra.2015-0342. Epub 2016 Apr 4.


Surgical approaches for stabilizing the craniovertebral junction (CVJ) are classified as either anterior or posterior approaches. Among the anterior approaches, the established method is anterior odontoid screw fixation. Posterior approaches are classified as either atlanto-axial fixation or occipito-cervical (O-C) fixation. Spinal instrumentation using anchor screws and rods has become a popular method for posterior cervical fixation. Because this method achieves greater stability and higher success rates for fusion without the risk of sublaminar wiring, it has become a substitute for previous methods that used bone grafting and wiring. Several types of anchor screws are available, including C1/2 transarticular, C1 lateral mass, C2 pedicle, and translaminar screws. Appropriate anchor screws should be selected according to characteristics such as technical feasibility, safety, and strength. With these stronger anchor screws, shorter fixation has become possible. The present review discusses the current status of surgical interventions for stabilizing the CVJ.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Atlanto-Axial Joint*
  • Bone Screws
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / surgery*
  • Spinal Fusion*