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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Occipitocervical fusion with a five-millimeter malleable rod and segmental fixation.

Although occipitocervical fusion is frequently used for instability of the upper cervical spine and the occipitocervical articulation, most currently used techniques have one or more of the following disadvantages: the necessity for sublaminar wires, the use of occipital screws, a fixed angle of instrumentation, or the necessity for routine postoperative halo immobilization. Moreover, many reported techniques are associated with a high rate of nonunion or instrumentation failure. We present our experience with a technically simple method of obtaining rigid occipitocervical arthrodesis using a 5-mm malleable rod that is fixed to the skull by a pair of wires passed through four suboccipital burr holes. Segmental spinal fixation is achieved with Wisconsin interspinous wires and is occasionally supplemented with sublaminar wires. Supplemental autogenous bone graft is used in all cases. A cervical collar is routinely used for postoperative immobilization. The results of treatment were retrospectively reviewed in 16 patients with an average age of 49.4 years (range, 9-69). Mean follow-up was 24 months (range, 12-36 mo). The indication for fusion was instability of the occiput-C1-C2 complex as a result of Chiari malformation, rheumatoid disease, skull base tumor resection, basilar invagination, ankylosing spondylitis, Down's syndrome, cervical laminectomy, and trauma. The average number of levels fused was 5.4 (range, O-C3 to O-T3). Successful occipitocervical arthrodesis was achieved in all but one of the surviving patients. The single patient with a pseudarthrosis was successfully managed with supplemental bone grafting and halo immobilization. There were two deaths from medical complications in chronically ill patients. Other complications included one postoperative instrumentation loosening, one myocardial infarction, and one superficial occipital decubitus. In conclusion, rodding and segmental interspinous wiring is an effective, technically simple method of obtaining rigid occipitocervical fixation, which obviates the need for bulky orthoses.[1]


  1. Occipitocervical fusion with a five-millimeter malleable rod and segmental fixation. Fehlings, M.G., Errico, T., Cooper, P., Benjamin, V., DiBartolo, T. Neurosurgery (1993) [Pubmed]
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