What is Atlanto-Axial Fusion?
Atlanto-Axial Fusion, or Atlanto-Axial Trans-Articular Screw Fixation, is performed to realign and stabilise the first and second cervical vertebra. During the procedure, bone graft is sometimes placed between the two vertebrae. This fuses to form one solid bone over three months. While the bone is fusing it is held still by two metal screws and wiring / rods.
Common Reasons for Atlanto-Axial Fusion
- Inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis
- Traumatic fracture
- Congenital malformations
Surgery is indicated if diseased or fractured bone, or damaged joints in the top two vertebrae are causing neck pain, or placing pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots. This may then cause pain, weakness or numbness in the arms or legs.
The goals of atlanto-axial fusion are to stabilise the spine and remove compression of the adjacent spinal cord. This should lead to improved function and less pain. The metal or plastic hardware implants provides immediate stability, while the bone fusion occurs over the following 3-12 months.