Laminar screw fixation of the axis

Daniel M. Sciubba, Joseph C. Noggle, Ananth K. Vellimana, James E. Conway, Ryan M. Kretzer, Donlin M. Long, Ira M. Garonzik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Object. Laminar fixation of the axis with crossing bilateral screws has been shown to provide rigid fixation with a theoretically decreased risk of vertebral artery damage compared with C1-2 transarticular screw fixation and C-2 pedicle screw fixation. Some studies, however, have shown restricted rigidity of such screws compared with C-2 pedicle screws, and others note that anatomical variability exists within the posterior elements of the axis that may have an impact on successful placement. To elucidate the clinical impact of such screws, the authors report their experience in placing C-2 laminar screws in adult patients over a 2-year period, with emphasis on clinical outcome and technical placement. Methods. Sixteen adult patients with cervical instability underwent posterior cervical and cervicothoracic fusion procedures at our institution with constructs involving C-2 laminar screws. Eleven patients were men and 5 were women, and they ranged in age from 28 to 84 years (mean 57 years). The reasons for fusion were degenerative disease (9 patients) and treatment of trauma (7 patients). In 14 patients (87.5%) standard translaminar screws were placed, and in 2 (12.5%) an ipsilateral trajectory was used. All patients underwent preoperative radiological evaluation of the cervical spine, including computed tomography scanning with multiplanar reconstruction to assess the posterior anatomy of C-2. Anatomical restrictions for placement of standard translaminar screws included a deeply furrowed spinous process and/or an underdeveloped midline posterior ring of the axis. In these cases, screws were placed into the corresponding lamina from the ipsilateral side, allowing bilateral screws to be oriented in a more parallel, as opposed to perpendicular, plane. All patients were followed for ≥ 2 years to record rates of fusion, instrumentation failure, and other complications. Results. Thirty-two screws were placed without neurological or vascular complications. The mean follow-up duration was 27.3 months. Complications included 2 revisions, one for pseudarthrosis and the other for screw pullout, and 3 postoperative infections. Conclusions. Placement of laminar screws into the axis from the standard crossing approach or via an ipsilateral trajectory may allow a safe, effective, and durable means of including the axis in posterior cervical and cervicothoracic fusion procedures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-334
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Spine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2008


  • Axis
  • Cervical fusion
  • Screw fixation
  • Translaminar screw


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