Treatment of Pediatric Atlantoaxial Instability with Traditional and Modified Goel-harms Fusion Constructs

Eur Spine J

July 28, 2008
Heuer, G. G., D. A. Hardesty, D. A. Bhowmick, R. Bailey, S. N. Magge, and P. B. Storm



There are several treatment options for rigid fixation at C1–C2 including Brooks and Gallie type wired fusions and C1–2 transarticular screws. The use of a Goel–Harms type fusion, a construct with C1 lateral mass screws and C2 pedicle screws, has not been extensively described in pediatric patients. Here, we describe its relatively safe and effective use for treating pediatric patients by retrospective chart review of patients treated by the senior author for atlantoaxial instability with a Goel–Harms-type constructs during a 3-year period (2005–2007). Six patients were treated using Goel–Harms-type constructs. Five patients were treated utilizing a construct containing C1 lateral mass screws and C2 pedicle screws; one patient was treated using construct containing C1 lateral mass screws and C2 trans-laminar screws. The patients ranged in age from 7 to 17 years old (mean 12.7). All patients had findings of an os odontoideum on CT scans and three of the six patients had T2 hyperintensity on MRI. Three of the six patients presented with transient neurologic deficits: quadraplegia in two patients and paresthesias in two patients. In each patient C1 lateral mass and C2 screws were placed and the subluxation was reduced to attain an anatomical alignment. No bone grafts were harvested from the iliac crest or rib. Local morsalized bone and sub-occipital skull graft was used. All patients tolerated the procedure well and were discharged home on post-operative day 3–4. The patients wore a hard cervical collar and no halo-vests were needed. All patients had solid fusion constructs and normal alignment on post-operative imaging studies performed on average 14 months post-operatively (range: 7–29). The results demonstrated that Goel–Harms fusions are a relatively safe and effective method of treating pediatric patients with atlantoaxial instability and are not dependent on vertebral anatomy or an intact ring of C1. Follow-up visits and studies in this limited series of patients demonstrated solid fusion constructs and anatomical alignment in all patients treated.

Keywords: Atlantoaxial instability, Os odontoideum, Goel–Harms fusion, Pediatrics, Cervical spine