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.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2014 · BioMed Research International
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    ABSTRACT: Treatment of Type II odontoid fractures remains controversial, whereas nonoperative treatment is well accepted for isolated Type III odontoid fractures. Little is known about long-term sequelae of nonoperative management or risk of recurrent injury after nonsurgical treatment. We hypothesize that a substantial proportion of odontoid fractures assumed to be acute are actually chronic injuries and have a high rate of late displacement resulting in neurologic injury. To identify patients presenting with previously unrecognized odontoid fracture nonunions and to document the incidence of new neurologic injury after secondary trauma in this population. Retrospective case series. One hundred thirty-three patients with Type II odontoid fractures presenting to a Level I trauma center. Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, American Spinal Injury Association Motor Score (AMS), and neurologic examination. All patients presenting after traumatic injury to a Level I trauma center from May 2005 to May 2010 with a Type II odontoid fracture on CT scan were included. Patients aged less than 18 years and those with pathologic fractures were excluded. Fractures were classified as chronic or acute based on CT evidence of chronic injury/nonunion including fracture resorption, sclerosis, and cyst formation. Magnetic resonance imaging was then examined for evidence of fracture acuity (increased signal in C2 on T2 images). Patients without evidence of acute fracture on MRI were considered to have chronic injuries. Computed tomography and MRI scans were interpreted independently by two reviewers. Chart review was performed to document demographics, AMS, and new-onset neurologic deficit associated with secondary injury. One hundred thirty-three patients presented with Type II odontoid fractures and no known history of cervical fracture with an average age of 79 years. Based on CT criteria, 31/133 (23%) fractures were chronic injuries. Nine additional fractures appeared acute on CT but were determined to be chronic by MRI findings. The overall number of chronic fractures was therefore 40 (30%). Interobserver reliability analysis for classification of fractures as chronic demonstrated κ=0.65 representing substantial agreement. Of the 40 chronic fractures, 7 patients (17.5%) had new-onset neurologic deficits after secondary injury including 4 motor deficits, 2 sensory deficits, and 1 combined deficit. Although the chronic injury group as a whole had similar AMS to the acute injury group (89 vs. 84, p=.27), the seven patients with new-onset neurologic deficit had an average AMS of 52.4. A substantial proportion of patients presenting after cervical trauma with Type II odontoid fractures have evidence of nonacute injury. Of these patients, 17% presented with a new neurologic deficit caused by an "acute-on-chronic" injury.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2013 · The spine journal: official journal of the North American Spine Society
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    ABSTRACT: Subgroup analysis of a prospective multicenter study. Outcome analysis of nonoperatively treated elderly patients with type II odontoid fractures, including assessment of consequence of a fracture nonunion. Odontoid fractures are among the most common fractures in the elderly, and controversy exists regarding treatment. Subgroup analysis of a prospective multicenter study of elderly patients (≥65 yr) with type II odontoid fracture. Neck Disability Index and Short-Form 36 (SF-36) version 2 were collected at baseline and 6 and 12 months. Fifty-eight (36.5%) of the 159 patients were treated nonoperatively. Of the 58 patients initially treated nonoperatively, 8 died within 90 days and were excluded. Of the remaining 50 patients, 11 (22.0%) developed nonunion, with 7 (63.6%) requiring surgery. Four of the 39 (10.3%) patients classified as having "successful union" required surgery due to late fracture displacement. Thus, 15 (30.0%) patients developed primary or secondary nonunion and 11 (22.0%) required surgery. The overall 12-month mortality was 14.0% (nonunion = 2, union = 5; P= 0.6407). For union and nonunion groups, Neck Disability Index and SF-36 version 2 declined significantly at 12 months compared with preinjury values (P< 0.05), except for SF-36 version 2 Physical Functioning (P= 0.1370). There were no significant differences in outcome parameters based on union status at 12 months (P> 0.05); however, it is important to emphasize that the 12-month outcomes for the nonunion patients reflect the status of the patient after delayed surgical treatment in the majority of these cases. Nonoperative treatment for type II odontoid fracture in the elderly has high rates of nonunion and mortality. Patients with nonunion did not report worse outcomes compared with those who achieved union at 12 months; however, the majority of patients with nonunion required delayed surgical treatment. These findings may prove useful for patients who are not surgical candidates or elect for nonoperative treatment.Level of Evidence: 2.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2013 · Spine
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