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Atlantoaxial rotatory fixation in childhood: a staged management strategy incorporating manipulation under anaesthesia


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Structural and chiropractic

Childs Nerv Syst.2021 Jan;37(1):167-175.


C S Hill, A Borg, M Z Tahir, D N P Thompson


Aims: The aims were to evaluate the safety of manipulation under anaesthesia (MUA) for atlantoaxial rotatory fixation (AARF) and the relative efficacy of rigid collar vs halo-body orthosis (HBO) in avoiding relapse and the need for open surgery. Methods: Cases of CT-verified AARF treated by MUA were identified from a neurosurgical operative database. Demographic details, time to presentation and aetiology of AARF were ascertained through case note review. Cases were divided according to method of immobilisation after successful reduction, either rigid collar (group 1) or HBO (group 2). The primary outcome measure was relapse requiring open surgical arthrodesis. Results: Thirty-three patients (2.2-12.7 years) satisfied inclusion criteria. Time to presentation varied from 1 day to 18 months. There were 19 patients in group 1 and 14 in group 2. There were no adverse events associated with MUA. 9/19 (47%) patients in group 1 resolved without need for further treatment compared with 10/14 (71%) in group 2 (p = 0.15). Of the 10 patients who failed group 1 treatment, four resolved after HBO. A total of ten patients (30%) failed treatment and required open surgery. Conclusions: MUA is a safe procedure for AARF where initial conservative measures have failed. MUA followed by immobilisation avoids the need for open surgery in over two thirds of cases. Immobilisation by cervical collar appears equally effective to HBO as an initial management, and so a step-wise approach may be reasonable. Delayed presentation may be a risk factor for relapse and need for open surgery.

Publication Date: 

2021 Jan



Hill, SC., Borg, A., Tahir, ZM., Thompson, PND. (2021) 'Atlantoaxial rotatory fixation in childhood: a staged management strategy incorporating manipulation under anaesthesia', Childs Nerv Syst.2021 Jan;37(1):167-175.

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