The Contemporary Treatment of Odontoid Injuries

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Study Design.Review article.Objective.To outline current concepts regarding the assessment and treatment of odontoid fractures.Summary of Background Data.Odontoid fractures account for 9% to 15% of adult, cervical spine fractures. These injuries usually result from hyperflexion or hyperextension of the cervical spine during low-energy impacts in the elderly or high-energy impacts in the young and middle aged. Neurologic injury associated with these fractures is rare.Methods.A review of pertinent literature was conducted. The information gleaned from this review was summarized.Results.Odontoid fractures should be evaluated with appropriate imaging to assess the fracture itself as well as exclude other contiguous or noncontiguous fractures. The Anderson and D’Alonzo classification system is most commonly used. True type I and III odontoid fractures are generally thought to be relatively stable and are often treated nonoperatively with immobilization. Type II fractures at the base of the odontoid are less stable, and there are differing opinions regarding the precise definition and optimal treatment of these injuries. Nonoperative treatment options for odontoid fractures include external immobilization with a collar or halo. Operative treatment options for odontoid fractures include one of several posterior C1-C2 fusion constructs or anterior odontoid fixation if the fracture pattern is amenable.Conclusions.Despite the frequency of odontoid fractures, there is still much debate regarding the optimal treatment of these fractures, especially the type II fractures. This fact may be because of the absence of an ideal solution for this clinical problem. Certainly, prospective controlled clinical studies are needed.

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