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Craniovertebral fusion in an infant using struts of banked adult bone

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The aim of this paper is to discuss the problems of craniocervical instability and craniocervical fusion in infancy. Despite the relative frequency of carniovertebral joint malformations, actual instability is quite rare in infancy.


An infant 8 months of age presented with tetraparesis and sleep apnea due to a complex malformation of her craniovertebral joint. An initial attempt at conservative treatment using a rigid neck collar failed, so the patient was surgically managed by the onlay placement of two autologous rib grafts. The rigid collar was maintained for 5 months.


Both rib grafts progressively reabsorbed within a few months, while the clinical deficits recurred. Reoperation consisted of occipitocervical interposition of two robust struts of banked cadaveric adult fibula. This time, the skull appeared mature enough to allow immobilization by the halo system. Adequate occipitocervical fusion was eventually achieved, and the patient fully recovered.


To the best of our knowledge, there is no other reported case of an infant undergoing craniovertebral fusion using cadaveric adult bone. When screw placement is not considered advisable to manage small infants, appropriate stability may be obtained using struts of robust cadaveric bone. A meticulous carpentry technique with graft interposition under compression and adequate postoperative immobilization remains mandatory.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Giuseppe Talamonti.

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Talamonti, G., D’Aliberti, G. & Debernardi, A. Craniovertebral fusion in an infant using struts of banked adult bone. Childs Nerv Syst 32, 753–757 (2016).

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