Surgical treatment of unstable type II odontoid fractures in skeletally mature individuals

Alpesh A. Patel, Ron Lindsey, Jason T. Bessey, Jens Chapman, Raja Rampersaud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Study Design. Systematic review of literature. Objective. To determine the optimal indications and methods of surgical treatment for unstable type II odontoid fractures in skeletally mature individuals. Summary of Background Data. Odontoid fractures are a frequently encountered injury pattern in the cervical spine. The surgical treatment of type II odontoid fractures varies among spinal surgeons. The optimal surgical indications and treatment for type II odontoid fractures remains unclear. Methods. Five primary research questions, based on safety and efficacy, were determined by consensus of a panel of spine trauma surgeons consisting of fellowship trained orthopedic and neurologic surgeons. A comprehensive review of the literature was performed using MeSH search terms in MEDLINE, PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic reviews. The quality of literature was rated as high, moderate, low, or very low. Using the GRADE evidence-based review system, the primary questions were answered using the literature review and expert opinion. These treatment recommendations were then rated as either strong or weak based on the quality of evidence and clinical expertise. Results. The initial search resulted in over 1300 results. After initial application of all inclusion and exclusion criteria, 458 abstracts were reviewed from which 22 manuscripts were found to meet all criteria. These were obtained, reviewed, and used to create an evidentiary table. All articles were of either low or very low quality. Conclusion. There is no moderate or high quality literature on the surgical management of acute type II odontoid fractures. Optimal indications for either anterior or posterior treatment of fractures are described but with no comparative data. A single anterior odontoid screw is the recommended technique for anterior treatment. Posterior internal fixation (C1-C2 transarticular screw, C1-C2 segmental fixation) is the recommended technique for posterior treatment. In equivocally indicated instances, anterior or posterior treatment can be safely used with good outcome. In this scenario, surgical management decision should be influenced by surgeon and patient preference as well as cost considerations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S209-S218
Issue number21 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Oct 1 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • adult
  • cervical
  • fracture
  • odontoid
  • surgery
  • systematic review
  • treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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