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Threaded Steinmann Pin Fusion of the Craniovertebral Junction

Apostolides, Paul J., MD*; Dickman, Curtis A., MD*; Golfinos, John G., MD*; Papadopoulos, Stephen M., MD; Sonntag, Volker K. H., MD, FACS*

Cervical Spine

Study Design In a clinical retrospective study, the authors review long-term results of occipitocervical fusion using a wide diameter, contoured, threaded Steinmann pin.

Objectives To evaluate the clinical and radiographic results of occipitocervical fusion using this technique in a variety of abnormalities including rheumatoid arthritis.

Summary of Background Data The various surgical techniques and hardware developed for occipitocervical fusion have been associated with mixed results, particularly in patients with rheumatoid arthritis or basilar invagination.

Methods Thirty-nine patients with occipitocervical instability were internally fixed with a wide diameter, contoured, threaded Steinmann pin wired to the occiput and cervical laminae or facets. Fusion was facilitated using autologous iliac crest bone graft and a cervical orthosis. Instability resulted from rheumatoid arthritis (n = 12), congenital anomalies (n = 12), trauma (n = 10), tumor (n = 4), or osteogenesis imperfecta (n = 1). Fifteen patients had radiographic evidence of basilar invagination. Long-term outcome (mean follow-up period, 38.9 months; range, 12-78 months) was based on clinical and radiographic review.

Results Thirty-seven patients (97%) had a stable postoperative occipitocervical construct: there were 35 osseous unions, two fibrous unions, and one nonunion. There was one postoperative death from pulmonary complications. No patient developed evidence of new, recurrent, or progressive basilar invagination.

Conclusion The authors concluded that rigid segmental fixation of the craniovertebral junction using a wide diameter, contoured, threaded Steinmann pin and supplemental autograft creates excellent fusion with minimal complications. This technique is appropriate for a variety of abnormalities including rheumatoid arthritis.

From the *Division of Neurological Surgery, Barrow Neurological Institute, St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix, Arizona, and the Section of Neurosurgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Acknowledgment date: March 7, 1995.

First revision date: July 31, 1995.

Acceptance date: November 28, 1995.

Device status category: 9.

Address reprint requests to: Volker K. H. Sonntag, MD; Neuroscience Publications; Barrow Neurological Institute; 350 West Thomas Road; Phoenix, AZ 85013-4496

© Lippincott-Raven Publishers.