Radiographic Outcomes of Upper Cervical Fusion for Pediatric Patients Younger Than 10 Years


Kei Watanabe1), Toru Hirano1), Keiichi Katsumi1), Masayuki Ohashi1), Hirokazu Shoji1), Kazuhiro Hasegawa2), Takui Ito3), Naoto Endo1)

1) Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Niigata University Medical and Dental General Hospital, Japan
2) Niigata Spine Surgery Center, Japan
3) Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Niigata City General Hospital, Japan


Purpose: This study aimed to investigate radiographic outcomes after posterior spinal fusion (PSF) for pediatric patients younger than 10 years with upper cervical disorders. Methods: Thirteen patients (mean age at surgery, 5.9 years; range, 1 to 9 years) who underwent PSF with a minimum of 2 years of follow-up (mean, 5.8 years) were included. Diagnoses were atlanto-axial instability due to congenital disorders for 11 patients and atlanto-axial rotatory fixation for 2 patients. The fusion area was occipito-cervical for 7 patients and C1/2 for 6 patients. PSF was performed using rigid screw-rod constructs for 6 patients and conventional techniques for 7 patients. Ten patients required halo immobilization after surgery. Fusion status, perioperative complications, radiographic alignment, and range of motion (ROM) from C2 to C7 were evaluated. Results: Twelve patients successfully achieved bony fusion (fusion rate, 92%), but complications occurred in 5 patients. Regarding radiographic measures (preoperative/postoperative/final follow-up), the mean atlanto-dental interval was significantly reduced (8.0 mm/2.7 mm/3.5 mm) and the C2-7 ROM was increased (from 49.4 degrees to 66.0 degrees) at the final follow-up (both comparisons, p<0.05). Sagittal alignment was unchanged. Conclusion: Use of rigid screw-rod instrumentation in the upper cervical spine with careful radiological evaluation is amenable for pediatric patients younger than 10 years. However, conventional procedures such as wiring fixation with rigid external immobilization are still alternative options for preventing serious neurological and vascular complications.

Released: January 27, 2017; doi: