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The effectiveness of a modified Gallie technique versus Magerl and Seeman transarticular screw fixation was compared in the management of 27 patients with symptomatic atlantoaxial instability. Twelve patients were treated using a modified Gallie technique and postoperative halo vest immobilization. Atlantoaxial arthrodesis occurred in seven (58%) patients, stable fibrous union occurred in one patient, and pseudarthrosis with recurrent instability developed in four (33%) patients. Average followup was 6.9 years. All 15 patients treated using Magerl and Seeman transarticular screw fixation and postoperative soft collar immobilization had atlantoaxial arthrodesis develop. Average duration of followup was 4 years. One patient sustained vertebral artery injury during preparation for screw placement. Magerl and Seeman transarticular screw fixation provides stability and more reliably produces atlantoaxial arthrodesis than the Gallie technique provides in patients with atlantoaxial instability without the need for rigid postoperative bracing. Potential for vertebral artery exists despite apparent accurate screw placement. To ensure that safe transarticular screw placement is possible, preoperative fine cut axial computed tomography with reconstructions is required to assess vertebral artery position and C2 isthmus anatomy. A proportion of patients have anatomy unsuitable for screw placement. Traditional wiring techniques are indicated in these patients.