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News Very good results demonstrated for fusion of the first two cervical vertebrae

For conditions and injuries involving the first two cervical vertebrae, one possible option is to fuse them both. Our study shows that this intervention is safe and delivers good results, despite the complexity involved.

Various conditions can affect the first and second cervical vertebrae (C1-C2): cervical spondylosis at the joints between the vertebrae or destruction/luxation of these joints due to rheumatoid arthritis or an accident. Typical consequences include chronic neck pain radiating to the back of the head and restricted movement and pain during rotation of the head. 

If conservative therapy, i.e. without surgery, does not help, fusion of these two vertebrae will come up for discussion in most cases. This is regarded as a challenging intervention, and patients are understandably concerned at the prospect of this kind of surgery. 

Study based on comprehensive data 

To date, there have been few studies that demonstrate the results of this kind of vertebral fusion based on patient feedback. We have therefore assessed the results, two years after surgery, from 126 patients who have undergone this kind of intervention with us. The basis for this was data from our comprehensive spinal register, where we have collated data from over 22,000 operations and over 86,000 patient questionnaires since 2004. 

Very successful results of complex surgery 

Our large group of patients who have undergone fusion of the C1-C2 vertebrae have shown very good results, and these have even exceeded the results for simpler surgery at other places along the spine (e.g. for prolapsed disks). 

88% of patients reported a good overall result following vertebral fusion, and 91% of patients were satisfied or very satisfied with their treatment. The study makes it clear therefore that fusion of the C1-C2 cervical vertebrae is a successful procedure if performed by experienced surgeons at a major spinal center for patients with suitable indications. 

So our spinal team recommends approaching a spinal surgeon in good time with a view to clarifying whether this kind of surgery can provide the desired relief.

Link to the study titled «Patient‑rated outcome after atlantoaxial (C1‑C2) fusion: more than a decade of evaluation of 2‑year outcomes in 126 patients»