A clinical comparison of one- and two-screw odontoid fixation

J Neurosurg. 1998 Sep;89(3):366-70. doi: 10.3171/jns.1998.89.3.0366.


Object: The optimal treatment of Type II odontoid fractures is controversial. Various therapies have been used, including nonrigid immobilization, halo orthosis, posterior atlantoaxial arthrodesis, and odontoid screw fixation. Of these, odontoid screw fixation is the only treatment modality that provides immediate stabilization and preserves normal motion at C1-2. It has been suggested in cadaveric biomechanical studies that there is no advantage to using more than one screw for anterior odontoid fixation. The authors compared the clinical safety and efficacy of one- and two-screw anterior odontoid fixation.

Methods: The authors retrospectively reviewed the medical records and radiographs of 42 consecutive patients who had undergone fixation for treatment of odontoid fractures at a single institution between 1989 and 1995. The group treated with a single screw consisted of 20 patients (11 males and nine females) with an average age of 54 years. The union rate in this group, as determined by postoperative dynamic radiographs, was 81%. The group treated with two screws consisted of 22 patients (13 men and nine women) with an average age of 64 years, whose union rate was 85%.

Conclusions: Anterior odontoid screw fixation is a safe and efficacious treatment for odontoid fractures. In the authors' experience there was no significant difference in the successful union rates achieved with either the one- or two-screw fixation techniques (81% and 85%, respectively; chi(2) = 0.09, p = 0.76).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Atlanto-Axial Joint / diagnostic imaging
  • Atlanto-Axial Joint / physiopathology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Bone Screws*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal / instrumentation*
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal / methods
  • Fracture Healing
  • Fractures, Ununited / diagnostic imaging
  • Fractures, Ununited / etiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odontoid Process / diagnostic imaging
  • Odontoid Process / injuries
  • Odontoid Process / surgery*
  • Radiography
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Safety
  • Spinal Fractures / classification
  • Spinal Fractures / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Fractures / physiopathology
  • Spinal Fractures / surgery*