Occipitocervical Fixation: General Considerations and Surgical Technique.

TitleOccipitocervical Fixation: General Considerations and Surgical Technique.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsJoaquim AFernandes, Osorio JA, K Riew D
JournalGlobal Spine J
Date Published2020 Aug

STUDY DESIGN: Narrative literature review.

OBJECTIVE: To review and present details on the occipitocervical fixation (OCF) technique as well as considerations for planning the procedure.

METHODS: We present the surgical technique of OCF in a step-by-step didactic and practical manner with surgical tips and tricks, including C1 and C2 screw fixation techniques. Additionally, we discuss complications, the extension of fusion, types of OCF, and how to avoid common side effects associated with OCF.

RESULTS: The complex and mobile anatomy of the craniocervical junction, when requiring fixation and fusion, warrants rigid instrumentation that can be achieve using a modern screw-plate-rod construct. Indications for OCF are craniocervical instability, and atlantoaxial instability when selective atlantoaxial fusion is not feasible. OCF generally involves occiput-C2 fusion. C1 fixation is generally unnecessary, since it increases the surgical time and is associated with the risk of vascular complications. Selective occiput-C2 fusion is recommended when there is no need for including the cervical subaxial region (eg, when stenosis or fractures coexist in the subaxial spine), and good fixation is achieved at C2. Most instrumentation systems now have occipital plates that are not pre-integrated to rods, making fixation much simpler. Surgical steps, from position to wound closure, are presented in detail, with pearls for practice and discussion of cervical alignment.

CONCLUSIONS: OCF is a challenging procedure, with potential risk of severe adverse effects. Understanding the surgical indications, as well as the nuances of the surgical technique, is required to improve patient outcomes and avoid complications.

Alternate JournalGlobal Spine J
PubMed ID32677563
PubMed Central IDPMC7359687