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Surg Neurol Int


Background: Intracranial migration of odontoid screws is a rare but serious complication of anterior odontoid screw fixation not often reported in literature by neurosurgeons. Here, we describe the second case in literature of intracranial migration of an odontoid screw.

Case Description: A 64-year-old neurologically intact patient with a type II odontoid fracture secondary to trauma underwent anterior odontoid screw fixation without any intraoperative complications. He tolerated the procedure well, and postoperative imaging demonstrated near anatomic correction of the fracture with satisfactory placement of the lag screw. Unfortunately, the patient was subsequently lost to follow up and he presented 7 months later for a routine outpatient computed tomography (CT) of the cervical spine, which demonstrated upward migration of the screw into the intracranial cavity abutting the medulla, with CT angiography of the neck also confirming the screw lying between the two vertebral arteries. Magnetic resonance imaging of the cervical spine also demonstrated the odontoid screw lying within close proximity to the ventral cervicomedullary junction, marginating the left vertebral artery. Subsequently, the patient was managed with removal of the odontoid screw and posterior cervical arthrodesis and instrumented fusion.

Conclusion: Our case demonstrates the rare but serious complication of intracranial odontoid screw migration, which we bring to the attention of the neurosurgical community. The recognition of risk factors for this complication and optimized management of this rare occurrence is important for surgeons to recognize.

Clinical Institute

Neurosciences (Brain & Spine)