Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Communicative Disorders

Degree Program

Communicative Disorders, MS

Committee Chair

Pitts, Teresa

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Mattingly, Rhonda

Committee Member

Mattingly, Rhonda

Committee Member

Smith, Alan

Author's Keywords

O-C2 fusion; dysphagia; spine; occipitocervical fusion; quality of life; SWAL-QOL


The fusion of the second cervical vertebrae to the occipital bone (O-C2 fusion) for head stabilization can result in postoperative dysphagia and dyspnea, negatively impacting the patient’s quality of life. Currently, the O-C2 angle is used for head placement, which may not place the head neutrally. We hypothesize that aligning the external auditory meatus with midline of the C2 will reduce oropharyngeal stenosis, reducing dysphagia. One male patient with poor swallow quality of life who required a revision of a previous O-C2 surgery was evaluated via videofluoroscopy and completed the standard swallow quality of life questionnaire (SWAL-QOL) before and after revision. The diameter and area of the oropharyngeal space were measured. Data shows increased oropharyngeal area and diameter after surgery, and an improved SWAL-QOL score. This is early evidence of an improved surgical approach for O-C2 fusion which could eliminate the complication of dysphagia.