Article Abstract

C7 intra-laminar screws for complex cervicothoracic spine surgery—a case series

Authors: Peter John Wilson, Michael Derrick Selby


Background: C7 has relatively unique anatomy compared to the remainder of the subaxial cervical spine (C3–C6) and upper thoracic spine. The C7 laminar has been previously reported in feasibility and biomechanical studies as an adequate fixation point in contrast to the lateral mass or pedicles, with few reports of its use in clinical practice. The purpose of this study was to review the safety and efficacy of using the C7 laminar as a fixation point in constructs involving the cervical spine and cervicothoracic junction.
Methods: Between February 2013 and July 2016, 10 patients (6 males, 4 females) had 19 C7 intra-laminar screws sited (bilateral in 9 patients, unilateral in 1 patient). Six patients had trauma as an underlying etiology, 2 of which had pseudoarthrosis from prior surgery. Three patients had cervical myelopathy from degenerative disease, 2 of which required anterior and posterior instrumentation for correction of deformity and 1 which had stand-alone posterior fixation. One patient had stabilization for an underlying malignancy.
Results: One patient died 2 weeks following their high cervical injury secondary to complications of respiratory failure. None of the remaining 9 patients were noted to have construct failure at a median follow up of 1 year (range, 6 months to 4 years) and all were noted to have satisfactory positioning of the instrumentation on post-operative imaging. The patient with malignancy died 6 months later from extra-spinal disease, there was one wound breakdown requiring debridement without infection in a revision case, and one patient required laminectomy for post-traumatic syrinx formation.
Conclusions: The C7 laminar provides an alternative fixation point for constructs involving the subaxial cervical spine and cervicothoracic junction, with excellent safety and efficacy in this small series. Larger series are required to more clarify the risk profile of this technique.