The odontoid process is a segment of the second cervical vertebra. This portion of the bone helps join the skull base with the rest of the cervical vertebrae. Sometimes, this process can be fractured by a traumatic injury. In the elderly, a simple slip can lead to an odontoid fracture.
Depending on the position of the fracture, the patient may need to have the bone stabilized surgically. In these cases, a screw is typically placed through the fractured process to stabilize it and prevent injury to the spinal cord. This is a very delicate procedure that is often done with the assistance of radiographs to guide the screw placement into the precise position desired.