BACKGROUND: Odontoid fractures are the most common cervical spine fracture in the geriatric population; however, the treatment of type II odontoid fractures in this age group is controversial.
OBJECTIVE: To compare the short-term (<3 months) mortality, long-term (≥12 months) mortality, and complication rates of patients >60 years of age with a type II odontoid fracture managed either operatively or nonoperatively.
METHODS: We performed a systematic review of literature published between January 1, 2000, and February 1, 2015, related to the treatment of type II odontoid fractures in patients >60 years of age. An analysis of short-term mortality, long-term mortality, and the occurrence of complications was performed.
RESULTS: A total of 452 articles were identified, of which 21 articles with 1233 patients met the inclusion criteria. Short-term mortality (odds ratio, 0.43; 95% confidence interval, 0.30-0.63) and long-term mortality (odds ratio, 0.47; 95% confidence interval, 0.34-0.64) were lower in patients who underwent surgical treatment than in those who had nonsurgical treatment, and there were no significant differences in the rate of complications (odds ratio, 1.01; 95% confidence interval, 0.63-1.63). Surgical approach (posterior vs anterior) showed no significant difference in mortality or complication rate. Similarly, no difference in mortality or complication rate was identified with hard collar or a halo orthosis immobilization.
CONCLUSION: The current literature suggests that well-selected patients >60 years of age undergoing surgical treatment for a type II odontoid fracture have a decreased risk of short-term and long-term mortality without an increase in the risk of complications.
AOSpine: The Aging Spine is online and full-text access is free.