A radiographic analysis of the anatomy of the C1 lateral mass using computed tomography (CT) scans and Mimics software.Objective:
To define the anatomy of the C1 lateral mass and make recommendations for optimal entry point and trajectory for anterior C1 lateral mass screws.Summary of Background Data:
Although various posterior insertion angles and entry points for screw insertion have been proposed for posterior C1 lateral mass screws, no large series have been performed to assess the ideal entry point and optimal trajectory for anterior C1 lateral mass screw placement.Materials and Methods:
The C1 lateral mass was evaluated using CT scans and a 3-dimensional imaging application (Mimics software). Measuring the space available for the anterior C1 lateral mass screw (SAS) at different camber angles from 0 to 30 degrees (5-degree intervals) was performed to identify the ideal camber angle of insertion. Measuring the range of sagittal angles was performed to calculate the ideal sagittal angle. Other measurements involving the height of the C1 lateral mass were also made.Results:
The optimal screw entry point was found to be located on the anterior surface of the atlas 12.88 mm (±1.10 mm) lateral to the center of the anterior tubercle. This optimal entry point was found to be 6.81 mm (±0.59 mm) superior to the anterior edge of the atlas inferior articulating process. The mean ideal camber angle was 20.92 degrees laterally and the mean ideal sagittal angle was 5.80 degrees downward.Conclusions:
These measurements define the optimal entry point and trajectory for anterior C1 lateral mass screws and facilitate anterior C1 lateral mass screw placement. A thorough understanding of the local anatomy may decrease the risk of injury to the spinal cord, vertebral artery, and internal carotid artery. Delineating the anatomy in each case with preoperative 3D CT evaluation is recommended.