Complications in craniovertebral junction instrumentation: Hardware removal can be associated with long-lasting stability. Personal experience

Domenico Iacopino, Jun Zhong, Pier Paolo Mattogno, Francesco Signorelli, Gerardo Iacopino, Giuseppe Barbagallo, Massimiliano Visocchi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background The causes of craniovertebral junction (CVJ) instabilities include trauma, rheumatological diseases, tumors, infections, congenital malformations, and degenerative disease processes; these complex pathologies often require CVJ instrumentation. Hardware complications were analyzed in a personal series of 48 treated patients. In light of the analysis of very unusual radiological and clinical findings, the authors tried to better investigate the related mechanisms and to reach possible useful conclusions. Methods In a series of 48 patients who underwent CVJ instrumentation and fusion procedures in our Institution, we describe three cases of hardware failure, due to: (1) infection; (2) radio- and chemotherapy; and (3) incorrect surgical procedure. Results 1. A stable bone CVJ fusion can occur after instrumentation removal for infection, since this removal can enhance bone fusion mechanisms; 2. Radio- and chemotherapy can cause hardware failure due to interference with local bone metabolism; 3. Although old-fashioned, wiring techniques still deserve consideration, mostly in CVJ re-do surgery after screwing technique failures; nevertheless, although the procedure is simple, safe, and effective, care must be taken in the preparation of the cranial holes in order to avoid sliding complications of the U-shaped rods. Conclusions CVJ instrumentations provide reasonably good mechanical stabilization with a high rate of bony fusion. Complications, such as dislocation or rupture of the fixation system, screw loosening, dural fistula, neural or vascular damage, and wound infection, are relatively infrequent. Knowledge and prevention of these complications is fundamental to improve surgical results and outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTrends in Reconstructive Neurosurgery: Neurorehabilitation, Restoration and Reconstruction
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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