Objective: Symptomatic Atlanto-axial (C1-2) osteoarthritis (AAOA) is a common phenomenon in elderly patients; however, there is a paucity of data on the effectiveness of posterior atlanto-axial fusion (PAAF) for this condition. To this end, here we assess changes in patient-reported outcomes and neck-related disability in adult patients undergoing PAAF for symptomatic C1-2 AAOA. Methods: In this retrospective study, the clinical records of consecutive patients with symptomatic AAOA who underwent PAAF between 2004 and 2017 were reviewed. Patient demographics, comorbidities, intraoperative and postoperative variables, and complication rates were collected. Neck Disability Index (NDI) scores were recorded at baseline and 6 weeks, 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years postoperatively. Results: Forty-two patients (average age, 72.04 ± 8.56 years; 26.19% males) met the study's inclusion criteria. In this cohort, 19.04% had previous subaxial cervical spine surgery, 35.71% had a history of smoking (all had stopped smoking before surgery), and 11.90% had type II diabetes. At baseline, the majority of patients had a normal neurologic exam. The average preoperative NDI score was 26.88 ± 24.85, which improved to 10.59 ± 14.88 at the 1-year follow-up and 13.20 ± 14.96 at the 2-year follow-up (P = 0.004). At baseline, 18% of the patients reported severe disability based on NDI score; this percentage decreased to 2% at 1 year and 0 at 2 years (P = 0.01). Importantly, a high percentage (11.90%) of patients had undergone previous subaxial cervical fusion for their pain due to a mistaken diagnosis for this condition, without symptom relief. Conclusions: In appropriately selected patients, PAAF may decrease neck pain and improve functional disability in patients with AAOA. Future prospective longitudinal studies are needed to corroborate these findings.
- Atlanto-axial osteoarthritis
- C1-C2 osteoarthritis
- Cervical osteoarthritis
- Neck disability
- Posterior atlanto-axial fusion