The use of allograft and recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein for instrumented atlantoaxial fusions.

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Iliac crest autograft is the historic gold standard for bone grafting, but is associated with a significant patient morbidity. Fusion rates of C1-C2 up to 88.9% using allograft and 96.7% using autologous iliac crest bone graft can be achieved when combined with rigid screw fixation. We sought to determine our fusion rate when combining allograft with recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein-2 (rh-BMP2) and rigid screw fixation.


We reviewed our experience using allograft, bone morphogenetic protein (rh-BMP2) and screw fixation of C1-C2 in 52 patients and examined indications, surgical technique, fusion rates, and complications. In 28 patients, corticocancellous allograft pieces were laid along decorticated bone after a C2 neurectomy was performed. In 24 patients, unicortical iliac crest allograft was precision-cut to fit between the C1 lamina and C2 spinous processes.


Fifty-two C1-C2 fusions were performed with allograft, rh-BMP2, and rigid screw fixation. There were 25 female and 27 male patients ranging in age from 6 to 92 years (mean, 65.8 years). Operative indications included trauma (56%), degenerative disease (21%), rheumatoid arthritis (15%), congenital anomalies (6%), and synovial cyst (2%). The mean follow-up was 23.9 ± 2.1 months (range, 2-55 months). The mean dose of rh-BMP2 used for all patients was 4.5 mg (range, 2.2-12 mg). In patients who achieved sufficient follow-up, 100% achieved solid fusion: 45/50 Lenke A, 5/50 Lenke B. There were no known complications attributable to the use of rh-BMP2.


The use of small doses of rh-BMP2 added to allograft in addition to rigid screw fixation is a safe and highly effective means of promoting a solid fusion of the atlantoaxial complex and spares the patient the morbidity of iliac crest harvest.





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Hood, Brian, D Kojo Hamilton, Justin S Smith, Marine Dididze, Christopher Shaffrey and Allan D Levi (2014). The use of allograft and recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein for instrumented atlantoaxial fusions. World neurosurgery, 82(6). pp. 1369–1373. 10.1016/j.wneu.2013.01.083 Retrieved from

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Christopher Ignatius Shaffrey

Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

I have more than 25 years of experience treating patients of all ages with spinal disorders. I have had an interest in the management of spinal disorders since starting my medical education. I performed residencies in both orthopaedic surgery and neurosurgery to gain a comprehensive understanding of the entire range of spinal disorders. My goal has been to find innovative ways to manage the range of spinal conditions, straightforward to complex. I have a focus on managing patients with complex spinal disorders. My patient evaluation and management philosophy is to provide engaged, compassionate care that focuses on providing the simplest and least aggressive treatment option for a particular condition. In many cases, non-operative treatment options exist to improve a patient’s symptoms. I have been actively engaged in clinical research to find the best ways to manage spinal disorders in order to achieve better results with fewer complications.

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