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Anterior and posterior fixation for delayed treatment of posterior atlantoaxial dislocation without fracture


Posterior atlantoaxial dislocation (PAAD) without fracture of the odontoid process is a rare injury. Authors have variously reported closed or open reduction, followed by either anterior or posterior fixation, but there is no consensus on best treatment. We present a particularly unstable case of PAAD. Open reduction through a retropharyngeal approach with odontoidectomy was required for reduction. Anterior fixation with transarticular lag screws was required prior to posterior fixation with pedicle screws. Despite non-compliance with postoperative immobilisation, imaging at 20-month follow-up confirmed solid fusion. The patient is pain-free with a good range of movement of the neck and has returned to a manual job. Our case had a greater degree of instability than was previously reported, which necessitated 360° fixation. This is the first reported case of this treatment strategy, which provided a very stable fixation allowing fusion despite early movement and without causing undue stiffness.

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