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This article has been peer reviewed. It was published in: Spine

Volume 38, Issue 11, May 2013, Pages 881-6.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e31828314ee. Copyright © Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins


STUDY DESIGN: Multicenter prospective cohort study.

OBJECTIVE: To identify patient and treatment characteristics associated with treatment success or failure in the management of odontoid fractures.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Odontoid fractures are the most common cervical spine fractures in the elderly and represent a significant management challenge with widely divergent views regarding operative versus nonoperative management.

METHODS: A total of 159 patients 65 years and older with radiographically confirmed type II odontoid fractures were enrolled at 10 sites in the United States and 1 site in Canada between January 2006 and May 2009. Subjects were followed at 6 and 12 months post-initial treatment with Neck Disability Index and SF-36v2 scores. Final treatment outcome was classified as failure or success. Treatment failure was defined as death by any cause, decline in Neck Disability Index by more than 9.5 absolute points, or occurrence of a major treatment-related complication. Baseline characteristics between the groups were compared using t test for the continuous variables and χ2 test for the categorical variables. Baseline characteristics associated with treatment outcomes were identified by multiple logistic stepwise regression analysis.

RESULTS: A total of 101 (63.5%) patients were treated surgically and 58 (36.5%) conservatively. Forty-four (27.7%) patients had a successful outcome and 86 (54.1%) had a treatment failure; for 29 patients (18.2%), treatment status could not be determined (3 withdrew; 26 were lost to follow-up). Twenty-nine (18.2%) patients expired before the 12-month follow-up. Follow-up information was available for 103 of 127 surviving (81.1%) patients. Twelve-month SF-36v2 scores were worse in the failure group. The characteristics associated with treatment failure were older age (odds ratio [OR] = 1.08 for each year of age); initial nonsurgical treatment (OR = 3.09); male sex (OR = 4.33), and baseline neurological system comorbidity (OR = 4.13).

CONCLUSION: Older age, initial nonsurgical treatment, and male sex are associated with failure of treatment in patients with geriatric odontoid fractures.

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