C2 translaminar screw fixation in pediatric occipitocervical fusion

Childs Nerv Syst. 2022 Jun;38(6):1125-1135. doi: 10.1007/s00381-022-05471-1. Epub 2022 Apr 14.


Purpose: Rigid occipitocervical (O-C) instrumentation can reduce the anterior pathology and has a high fusion rate in children with craniovertebral instability. Typically, axis (C2) screw fixation utilizes C1-C2 transarticular screws or C2 pars screws. However, anatomic variation may preclude these screw types due to the size of fixation elements or by placing the vertebral artery at risk for injury. Pediatric C2 translaminar screw fixation has low risk of vertebral artery injury and may be used when the anatomy is otherwise unsuitable for C1-C2 transarticular screws or C2 pars screws.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed a neurosurgical database at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland for patients who had undergone a cervical spinal fusion that utilized translaminar screws for occipitocervical instrumentation between 2002 and 2020. We then reviewed the operative records to determine the parameters of C2 screw fixations performed. Demographic and all other relevant clinical data were then recorded.

Results: Twenty-five patients ranging from 2 to 18 years of age underwent O-C fusion, with a total of 43 translaminar screws at C2 placed. Twenty-three patients were fused (92%) after initial surgery with a mean follow-up of 43 months. Two patients, both with Down syndrome, had a nonunion. Another 2 patients had a superficial wound dehiscence that required wound revision. One patient died of unknown cause 7 months after surgery. One patient developed an adjacent-level kyphosis.

Conclusion: When performing occipitocervical instrumentation in the pediatric population, C2 translaminar screw fixation is an effective option to other methods of C2 screw fixation dependent on anatomic feasibility.

Keywords: Atlantoaxial fixation; Occipitocervical instability; Pediatric spine; Spinal fusion; Translaminar screw.

MeSH terms

  • Atlanto-Axial Joint* / diagnostic imaging
  • Atlanto-Axial Joint* / surgery
  • Bone Screws / adverse effects
  • Cervical Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Cervical Vertebrae / pathology
  • Cervical Vertebrae / surgery
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability* / diagnostic imaging
  • Joint Instability* / etiology
  • Joint Instability* / surgery
  • Kyphosis* / complications
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Fusion* / methods
  • Treatment Outcome