OBJECTIVE: Spinal cord compression secondary to a subluxation of one vertebral body over another can be achieved with reduction of the translational deformity. Intraoperative reduction of C1–C2 subluxations can be technically challenging when one uses traditional techniques (e.g., wiring and transarticular screw fixation). The popularization of C1 lateral mass and C2 pedicle screws has allowed surgeons to achieve a more complex realignment at this region of the spine. Control of both C1 and C2 with independent fixation can be used to obtain reduction. In certain instances, placement of C2 pedicle screws is not possible. The use of C2 translaminar screws (if the C2 lamina is present and suitable) is an alternative method of fixation in C2 and can be used for intraoperative reduction.
CLINICAL PRESENTATION: A 15-year-old boy with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis presented with spinal cord compression secondary to a C1–C2 subluxation. The C2 pedicle anatomy precluded safe placement of C2 pedicle screws. An alternative method of fixation with the use of C2 translaminar screws and reduction was performed to obtain proper alignment and decompress the spinal cord.
TECHNIQUE: C1 lateral mass screws and C2 translaminar screws are inserted in the usual fashion. Two contoured rods, two rod holders, and two distractors, combined with C1 lateral mass screws and C2 translaminar screws, were used to achieve reduction. Concomitant distraction between the C2 translaminar screw head and the rod holder resulted in ventral translation of C2 on C1, decompressing the spinal cord. The reduction was maintained by tightening the C2 locking nut onto the rod.
CONCLUSION: The use of C2 translaminar screws (if the C2 lamina is present and suitable) is an alternative method of fixation in C2. C1 lateral mass and C2 translaminar screw fixation provide a powerful means of reducing C1–C2 subluxations and maintaining alignment, achieving indirect decompression of the spinal cord.
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, George Washington University, Washington, District of Columbia (O'Brien)
Department of Neurosurgery, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland (Gokaslan) (Suk) (Wolinsky)
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland (Riley)
Reprint requests: Jean-Paul Wolinsky, M.D., Department of Neurosurgery, Meyer 7–109, Johns Hopkins Hospital, 600 N. Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21287. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Received, October 15, 2007.
Accepted, March 26, 2008.