Background: Sectioning of the C2 nerve root allows for direct visualization of the C1-2 joint and may facilitate arthrodesis.
Objective: To determine the clinical and functional consequences of C2 nerve root sectioning during placement of C1 lateral mass screws.
Methods: All patients undergoing C1 lateral mass screw fixation were included in this prospective study. A standard questionnaire was used to determine severity of occipital numbness/pain and its effect on quality of life (QOL). Domains of NDI were used to assess disability related to C2 symptoms.
Results: A total of 28 patients were included (C2 transection=8; C2 preservation=20). A trend of decreased blood loss and length of surgery was observed in the C2 transection cohort. Occipital numbness was reported by 4 (50.0%) patients after C2 transection. Occipital neuralgia was reported by 7 (35.0%) patients with C2 preservation. None of the patients with numbness after C2 transection reported being “bothered” by it. All patients with occipital neuralgia after C2 sparing reported being “bothered” by it and 57.1% reported moderate to severe effect on QOL. Use of medication was reported by 5 (71.4%) patients with neuralgia vs none with numbness. Mean disability was significantly higher with neuralgia versus numbness (p=0.016).
Conclusion: C2 nerve root transection is associated with increased occipital numbness but this has no effect on PROs and QOL. C2 nerve root preservation can be associated with occipital neuralgia, which has a negative impact on patient disability and QOL. C2 nerve root transection has no negative consequences during C1-2 stabilization.
From: C2 Nerve Root Transection During C1 Lateral Mass Screw Fixation: Does it Affect Functionality and Quality of Life? by McGirt et al.