A radiographic computed tomography-based study to determine the ideal entry point, trajectory, and length for safe fixation using C-2 pars interarticularis screws: Clinical article

Daniel J. Hoh, Charles Y. Liu, Michael Y. Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Object. Effective methods for fixation of the axis include C1-2 transarticular and C-2 pedicle screw placement. Both techniques pose a risk of vertebral artery (VA) injury in patients with narrow pedicles or an enlarged, high-riding VA. Pars screws at C-2 avoid the pedicle, but can cause VA injury with excessively long screws. Therefore, the authors evaluated various entry points and trajectories to determine ideal pars screw lengths that avoid breaching the transverse foramen. Methods. Both pars were studied on 50 CT scans (100 total). Various pars lengths were assessed using 2 entry points and 3 trajectories (6 measurements). Entry point A was the superior one-fourth of the lateral mass. Entry point B was 3-mm rostral to the inferior aspect of the lateral mass. Using entry points A and B, Trajectory 1 was the minimum distance to the transverse foramen; Trajectory 2 was the maximum distance to the transverse foramen; and Trajectory 3 was the steepest angle to the pars/C-2 superior facet junction without transverse foramen breach. Results. The mean patient age was 46 ± 17 years, and 84% of the CT scans reviewed were obtained in men. There was no significant difference in right or left measurements. Entry point B demonstrated greater pars lengths for each trajectory compared with entry point A (p < 0.0001). For both entry points, Trajectory 3 provided the greatest pars length. Using Trajectory 3 with entry point B, 84, 95, and 99% had a pars length that measured ≥ 18, 16, and 14 mm, respectively. Using Trajectory 3 with Entry point A, only 41, 64, and 87% had a pars length that measured ≥ 18, 16, and 14 mm, respectively. Conclusions. Using an entry point 3-mm rostral to the inferior edge of the lateral mass and a trajectory directed toward the superior facet/pars junction, 99% of partes interarticularis in this study would tolerate a 14-mm screw without breach of the transverse foramen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)602-612
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Spine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2010



  • Axis
  • C-2
  • Instrumentation
  • Pars interarticularis
  • Transverse foramen
  • Vertebral artery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery
  • Neurology

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