Postoperative severe headache following cervical posterior surgical fixation from C2 distally

Ryoji Tauchi, Sang Hun Lee, Jin Young Kim, Yong Chan Kim, Colleen Peters, Shiro Imagama, Naoki Ishiguro, Jacob Buchowski, K. Daniel Riew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study Design: Retrospective study.Purpose: To identify the prevalence of severe headache occurring after cervical posterior surgical fixation (PSF) and to evaluate theclinical and radiological findings associated with severe headache after surgery.Overview of Literature: Several studies have reported on the axial pain after cervical surgery. However, to our knowledge, the incidenceof severe headache after cervical PSF has not been elucidated.Methods: The medical records and radiological assessment of patients who underwent surgical treatment from August 2002 to May2012 were reviewed to identify the prevalence and risk factors for severe headaches occurring following PSF from C2 distally. Neckdisability index scores (NDI) (the item for neck pain), the type of C2 screw, number of cervical fused levels (1-6), and smoking habitwere calculated preoperatively and postoperatively. In addition, radiological parameters (T1 slope angle, C1/2 angle, C2-7 Cobbangle, C2-7 sagittal vertical axis and C1-implant distance) were assessed for all patients. Severe headache was defined as a highNDI headache score (>4 out of 5).Results: Eighty-two patients met the inclusion criteria. The mean age was 59.2 years (range, 21-78 years), and the mean number offused levels was 5.1. The mean follow-up period was 2.9 years (range, 1-10.9 years). While only one severe headache occurred denovo postoperatively in a patient in the C3 or C4 distally group (total 30 patients, average age of 50.2 years), 11 patients in the C2 distallygroup (p =0.04) had severe headache occur postoperatively. The radiological parameters were not significantly different betweenthe postoperative milder headache and severe headache (SH) groups. The SH group had a significantly higher preoperative NDI score(neck pain) (p <0.01).Conclusions: Newly occurring severe headaches can occur in 18% of patients after PSF from C2 distally. The patients with newlyoccurring severe headaches had significantly higher preoperative NDI score (neck pain).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)728-733
Number of pages6
JournalAsian Spine Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Cervical
  • Headache
  • Posterior surgical fixation
  • Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Postoperative severe headache following cervical posterior surgical fixation from C2 distally'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this