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Journal of Craniovertebral Junction and Spine
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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 63-67

Type III odontoid fractures: A subgroup analysis of complex, high-energy fractures treated with external immobilization


Division of Orthopedic Surgery, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Alabama, USA

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Thomas E Niemeier
Division of Orthopedic Surgery, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Alabama
USA
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jcvjs.JCVJS_152_17

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Study Design: Retrospective cohort study. Objective: Type III odontoid fractures are classically treated nonoperatively, yet, the current literature on Type III odontoid fractures includes fractures of multiple etiologies and fracture morphologies. We hypothesize that a subgroup of complex, Type III fractures caused by high-energy mechanisms are more likely to fail nonoperative treatment. Materials and Methods: Acute Type III odontoid fractures were identified at a single institution from 2008 to 2015. Fractures were categorized as high- or low-energy fracture with high-energy fractures defined as those with lateral mass comminution (>50%) or secondary fracture lines into the pars interarticularis or vertebral body. Patients were treated in either a hard collar orthosis or halo vest and were followed for fracture union and stability. Results: One hundred and twenty-five Type III odontoid fractures were identified with 51% classified as complex fractures. Thirty-three patients met the inclusion and exclusion criteria including 15 patients treated in a halo vest and 18 in a hard collar orthosis. Mean follow-up was 32 (±44) weeks. Seven patients demonstrated progressive displacement of either 2 mm of translation or 5° of angulation and underwent delayed surgical stabilization. Two additional patients required delayed surgery for nonunion and myelopathy. Initial fracture displacement and angulation were not correlative with final outcome. No statistical advantage of halo vest versus hard collar orthosis was observed. Conclusions: Complex Type III odontoid fractures are distinctly different from low-energy injuries. In the current study, 21% of patients were unsuccessfully treated nonoperatively with external immobilization and required surgery. For complex Type III fractures, we recommend initial conservative treatment, while maintaining close monitoring throughout patient recovery and fracture union.


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