Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

AIMS: Fracture of the odontoid process (OP) in the elderly is associated with mortality rates similar to those of hip fracture. The aim of this study was to identify variables that predict mortality in patients with a fracture of the OP, and to assess whether established hip fracture scoring systems such as the Nottingham Hip Fracture Score (NHFS) or Sernbo Score might also be used as predictors of mortality in these patients. PATIENTS AND METHODS: We conducted a retrospective review of patients aged 65 and over with an acute fracture of the OP from two hospitals. Data collected included demographics, medical history, residence, mobility status, admission blood tests, abbreviated mental test score, presence of other injuries, and head injury. All patients were treated in a semi-rigid cervical orthosis. Univariate and multivariate analysis were undertaken to identify predictors of mortality at 30 days and one year. A total of 82 patients were identified. There were 32 men and 50 women with a mean age of 83.7 years (67 to 100). RESULTS: Overall mortality was 14.6% at 30 days and 34.1% at one year. Univariate analysis revealed head injury and the NHFS to be significant predictors of mortality at 30 days and one year. Multivariate analysis showed that head injury is an independent predictor of mortality at 30 days and at one year. The NHFS was an independent predictor of mortality at one year. The presence of other spinal injuries was an independent predictor at 30 days. Following survival analysis, an NHFS score greater than 5 stratified patients into a significantly higher risk group at both 30 days and one year. CONCLUSION: The NHFS may be used to identify high-risk patients with a fracture of the OP. Head injury increases the risk of mortality in patients with a fracture of the OP. This may help to guide multidisciplinary management and to inform patients. This paper provides evidence to suggest that frailty rather than age alone may be important as a predictor of mortality in elderly patients with a fracture of the odontoid process. Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2019;101-B:253-259.

Original publication




Journal article


Bone joint j

Publication Date





253 - 259


Fracture, Mortality, Odontoid, Predictor, Process, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Female, Humans, Kaplan-Meier Estimate, Male, Odontoid Process, Orthotic Devices, Prognosis, Retrospective Studies, Risk Assessment, Severity of Illness Index, Spinal Fractures