Experience in the management of odontoid process injuries: an analysis of 128 cases

Neurosurgery. 1986 Mar;18(3):306-10. doi: 10.1227/00006123-198603000-00008.


The authors present a retrospective analysis of 128 cases of odontoid process injury treated at the University of Minnesota and affiliated hospitals between the years 1967 and 1983. Of these 128 cases, 110 were acute fractures, while 18 patients suffered from old, unstable odontoid injuries. Motor vehicle accident was the leading cause of injury, and the largest group of patients was in their second decade. Type II fractures were the most commonly encountered type of injury, and anterior subluxation was the most common displacement. Posterior subluxation, however, had the highest incidence of associated neurological deficit. Regarding treatment, the 110 acute fracture patients fell into the following groups: 16 patients died during the acute phase, 14 patients underwent early posterior cervical fusion, and 80 patients underwent a course of external skeletal fixation. The remaining 18 patients with old unstable injuries underwent posterior cervical fusion. An analysis of the results in these groups led to the elucidation of certain factors that likely are important in determining the treatment of each individual patient. These factors include age of the patient, type of odontoid fracture, direction and degree of fracture displacement, and diagnostic delay. Fracture reduction and halo immobilization are the treatments preferred for patients who are diagnosed within 1 week of injury, who are less than 65 years of age and who have anteriorly, nondisplaced, or minimally posteriorly subluxed (less than 2 mm) Type II fractures, or who have any Type III injury.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Axis, Cervical Vertebra / injuries*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fracture Fixation
  • Fractures, Bone / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odontoid Process / injuries*
  • Spinal Fusion
  • Wound Healing