European Spine Journal

, Volume 18, Issue 8, pp 1135–1153 | Cite as

C2-fractures: part II. A morphometrical analysis of computerized atlantoaxial motion, anatomical alignment and related clinical outcomes

  • Heiko KollerEmail author
  • Frank Acosta
  • Rosemarie Forstner
  • Juliane Zenner
  • Herbert Resch
  • Mark Tauber
  • Stefan Lederer
  • Alexander Auffarth
  • Wolfgang Hitzl
Original Article


Knowledge on the outcome of C2-fractures is founded on heterogenous samples with cross-sectional outcome assessment focusing on union rates, complications and technical concerns related to surgical treatment. Reproducible clinical and functional outcome assessments are scant. Validated generic and disease specific outcome measures were rarely applied. Therefore, the aim of the current study is to investigate the radiographic, functional and clinical outcome of a patient sample with C2-fractures. Out of a consecutive series of 121 patients with C2 fractures, 44 met strict inclusion criteria and 35 patients with C2-fractures treated either nonsurgically or surgically with motion-preserving techniques were surveyed. Outcome analysis included validated measures (SF-36, NPDI, CSOQ), and a functional CT-scanning protocol for the evaluation of C1–2 rotation and alignment. Mean follow-up was 64 months and mean age of patients was 52 years. Classification of C2-fractures at injury was performed using a detailed morphological description: 24 patients had odontoid fractures type II or III, 18 patients had fracture patterns involving the vertebral body and 11 included a dislocated or a burst lateral mass fracture. Thirty-one percent of patients were treated with a halo, 34% with a Philadelphia collar and 34% had anterior odontoid screw fixation. At follow-up mean atlantoaxial rotation in left and right head position was 20.2° and 20.6°, respectively. According to the classification system of posttreatment C2-alignment established by our group in part I of the C2-fracture study project, mean malunion score was 2.8 points. In 49% of patients the fractures healed in anatomical shape or with mild malalignment. In 51% fractures healed with moderate or severe malalignment. Self-rated outcome was excellent or good in 65% of patients and moderate or poor in 35%. The raw data of varying nuances allow for comparison in future benchmark studies and metaanalysis. Detailed investigation of C2-fracture morphology, posttreatment C2-alignment and atlantoaxial rotation allowed a unique outcome analysis that focused on the identification of risk factors for poor outcome and the interdependencies of outcome variables that should be addressed in studies on C2-fractures. We recognized that reduced rotation of C1–2 per se was not a concern for the patients. However, patients with worse clinical outcomes had reduced total neck rotation and rotation C1–2. In turn, C2-fractures, especially fractures affecting the lateral mass that healed with atlantoaxial deformity and malunion, had higher incidence of atlantoaxial degeneration and osteoarthritis. Patients with increased severity of C2-malunion and new onset atlantoaxial arthritis had worse clinical outcomes and significantly reduced rotation C1–2. The current study offers detailed insight into the radiographical, functional and clinical outcome of C2-fractures. It significantly adds to the understanding of C2-fractures.


Cervical spine Atlantoaxial motion C2-fracture Clinical outcome Functional outcome 

Supplementary material

586_2009_901_MOESM1_ESM.doc (648 kb)
The analysis of the instantaneous center of rotation (ICR) of C1-C2 following C2-fractures. (DOC 648 kb)
586_2009_901_MOESM2_ESM.doc (132 kb)
Supplementary Table 1 (DOC 132 kb)
586_2009_901_MOESM3_ESM.doc (134 kb)
Supplementary Tables 2, 3 and 10 (DOC 134 kb)
586_2009_901_MOESM4_ESM.doc (54 kb)
Supplementary Table 9 (DOC 54 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heiko Koller
    • 1
    Email author
  • Frank Acosta
    • 2
  • Rosemarie Forstner
    • 3
  • Juliane Zenner
    • 4
  • Herbert Resch
    • 1
  • Mark Tauber
    • 1
  • Stefan Lederer
    • 1
  • Alexander Auffarth
    • 1
  • Wolfgang Hitzl
    • 5
  1. 1.Department for Traumatology and Sports InjuriesParacelsus Medical UniversitySalzburgAustria
  2. 2.Department of Neurological SurgeryUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA
  3. 3.Institute for RadiodiagnosticsParacelsus Medical UniversitySalzburgAustria
  4. 4.German Scoliosis CenterWerner Wicker ClinicBad WildungenGermany
  5. 5.Research Office, BiostatisticsParacelsus Medical UniversitySalzburgAustria

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