Functional and Quality-of-Life Outcomes in Geriatric Patients with Type-II Dens Fracture

Rothman Institute, Thomas Jefferson University, 925 Chestnut Street, 5th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107. E-mail address for A.R. Vaccaro: .
The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (Impact Factor: 5.28). 04/2013; 95(8):729-35. DOI: 10.2106/JBJS.K.01636
Source: PubMed


Dens fractures are relatively common in the elderly. The treatment of Type-II dens fractures remains controversial. The aim of this multicenter prospective cohort study was to compare outcomes (assessed with use of validated clinical measures) and complications of nonsurgical and surgical treatment of Type-II dens fractures in patients sixty-five years of age or older.
One hundred and fifty-nine patients with a Type-II dens fracture were enrolled in a multicenter prospective study. Subjects were treated either surgically (n = 101) or nonsurgically (n = 58) as determined by the treatment preferences of the treating physicians and the patients. The subjects were followed at six and twelve months with validated outcome measures, including the Neck Disability Index (NDI) and Short Form-36v2 (SF-36v2). Treatment complications were prospectively recorded. Statistical analysis was performed to compare outcome measures before and after adjustment for confounding variables.
The two groups were similar with regard to baseline characteristics. The most common surgical treatment was posterior C1-C2 arthrodesis (eighty of 101, or 79%) while the most common nonsurgical treatment was immobilization with use of a hard collar (forty-seven of fifty-eight, or 81%). The overall mortality rate was 18% over the twelve-month follow-up period. At twelve months, the NDI had increased (worsened) by 14.7 points in the nonsurgical cohort (p < 0.0001) compared with a nonsignificant increase (worsening) of 5.7 points in the surgical group (p = 0.0555). The surgical group had significantly better outcomes as measured by the NDI and SF-36v2 Bodily Pain dimension compared with the nonsurgical group, and these differences persisted after adjustment. There was no difference in the overall rate of complications, but the surgical group had a significantly lower rate of nonunion (5% versus 21% in the nonsurgical group; p = 0.0033). Mortality was higher in the nonsurgical group compared with the surgical group (annual mortality rates of 26% and 14%, respectively; p = 0.059).
We demonstrated a significant benefit with surgical treatment of dens fractures as measured by the NDI, a disease-specific functional outcome measure. As a result of the nonrandomized nature of the study, the results are vulnerable to the effects of possible residual confounding. We recommend that elderly patients with a Type-II dens fracture who are healthy enough for general anesthesia be considered for surgical stabilization to improve functional outcome as well as the union and fusion rates.
Therapeutic Level II. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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    • "Despite the high relevance of this question, the current evidence does not favour any treatment modality for odontoid fractures type II in the elderly. The only prospective study in this regard found a trend towards more complications in the nonsurgical group, which failed to reach significance [49]. Of course there are method-related complications, which are well documented in retrospective case series. "
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    ABSTRACT: Odontoid fractures type II according to Anderson and d'Alonzo are not uncommon in the elderly patients. Still, due to the paucity of evidence the published treatment guidelines are far from equivocal. This systematic review focuses on the published results of type II odontoid fracture treatment in the elderly with regard to survival, nonunion, and complications. After a systematic literature research 38 publications were included. A cumulative analysis of 1284 published cases found greater survival if elderly patients with odontoid fractures type II received surgical treatment (RR = 0.64). With regard to nonunion in 669 published cases primary posterior fusion had the best fusion results. The systematic literature review came to the following conclusions. (1) Surgical stabilisation of odontoid fractures type II improves survival in patients between 65 and 85 years of age compared to nonsurgical treatment. (2) Posterior atlantoaxial fusion for odontoid fractures type II in the elderly has the greatest bony union rate. (3) Odontoid nonunion is not associated with worse clinical or functional results in the elderly. (4) The complication rate of nonsurgical treatment is similar to the complication rate of surgical treatment of odontoid fractures type II in the elderly.
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