Study Design. This is a report of a woman with an atlanto-occipital coalition who experienced a traumatic vertical atlantoaxial facet dislocation and severe associated neurologic injury. Objective. To describe the radiographic and pathoanatomic characteristics of the injury process. Summary of Background Data. Severe injuries of the occipito-atlantoaxial complex are uncommon and only rarely are associated with patient survival. This is the first report of this particular injury. Methods. Plain radiography and tomography demonstrated the facet dislocation and instability of the injury. Surgical exploration for repair of the torn dura mater and bony arthrodesis demonstrated the gross pathoanatomy. Results. The patient's vertical atlantoaxial instability was stabilized, her dura mater reconstructed, and her necrologic status has improved to allow mobilization with a cane. Conclusion. Vertical atlantoaxial instability has not been described previously. From the somewhat subtle radiographic findings, one might underestimate the severity of the neurologic damage. Aggressive work-up and management of this injury is suggested to avoid potential further necrologic sequelae.
- atlantoaxial instability
- cervical spine trauma
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine