Upper cervical spine trauma.

Abstract

Injuries to the upper cervical spine are potentially lethal; thus, full characterization of the injuries requires an accurate history and physical examination, and management requires an in-depth understanding of the radiographic projection of the craniocervical complex. Occipital condyle fractures may represent major ligament avulsions and may be highly unstable, requiring surgery. Craniocervical dissociation results from disruption of the primary osseoligamentous stabilizers between the occiput and C2. Dynamic fluoroscopy can differentiate the subtypes of craniocervical dissociation and help guide treatment. Management of atlas fractures is dictated by transverse alar ligament integrity. Atlantoaxial dislocations are rotated, translated, or distracted and are treated with a rigid cervical orthosis or fusion. Treatment of odontoid fractures is controversial and dictated by fracture characteristics, patient comorbidities, and radiographic findings. Hangman's fractures of the axis are rarely treated surgically, but atypical patterns and displaced fractures may cause neurologic injury and should be reduced and fused. Management of injuries to the craniocervical junction remains challenging, but good outcomes can be achieved with a comprehensive plan that consists of accurate and timely diagnosis and stabilization of the craniocervical junction.

DOI: 10.5435/JAAOS-22-11-718

Cite this paper

@article{Bransford2014UpperCS, title={Upper cervical spine trauma.}, author={Richard J Bransford and Timothy Alton and A Patel and Carlo B Bellabarba}, journal={The Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons}, year={2014}, volume={22 11}, pages={718-29} }