Atlas occipitalization in a supersonic fighter pilot involved in a midair collision: A case report

Hadas Gips, Jehuda Hiss, Benjamin Davidson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We report a case of a midair collision between two F16 fighter aircraft, in which one pilot survived and the other was ejected upon impact and his remains recovered from sea. In autopsy, no patholgy was detected, other than the expected evidence of mechanical trauma. No defects in the aircraft or faults in the parachute or ejection mechanism were found. Reconstruction of the shattered skull base and the cervical vertebrae revealed fusion of the atlanto-occipital joint (occipitalization) and a left paracondylar process. The effective diameter of the spinal canal was decreased by the abnormal articulation. Such malformations can cause a wide range of neurologic deficits. Considering the skill and alertness needed to operate a supersonic fighter aircraft, with the pressure applied by the heavy protective head gear and various G forces endured by the spinal column during flight, we postulate that the collision was related to the pilot's sudden incapacitation. Copyright (c) Association of Military Surgeons of the US. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)931-934
Number of pages4
JournalMilitary Medicine
Volume175
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes

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