Traumatic Posterior Atlantoaxial Dislocation With an Associated Fracture: A Systematic Review

Ahmad Essa*, Salah Khatib, Eran Beit Ner, Yossi Smorgick, Yigal Mirovsky, Yoram Anekstein, Oded Rabau

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Study design: Systematic review. Objective: To investigate the clinical presentation, mechanism of injury, patients' characteristics, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of traumatic posterior atlantoaxial dislocation with fracture (TPAD). Background: TPAD is an extremely rare entity, with a limited number of cases reported in the literature. Although rare, a thorough understanding of the pathogenesis and management of such cases is required due to the high risk of spinal cord compression and the severity of neurological deficits. We conducted a systematic review of all cases of TPAD with fractures reported in the literature. Methods: This systematic review was conducted following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-analysis guidelines. Relevant literature was retrieved from the Pubmed database. All published English-written studies involving human subjects with relevant data regarding TPAD were included. Results: Two case series and 20 case reports published between 1924 and 2021 describing 28 patients with TPAD were included. The median age at presentation was 51.5 years, with male predominance (83%). The most common fracture pattern was Anderson and D'alonzo type II odontoid fracture (78%). Neurological exam at presentation was intact in 52% of patients. The primary diagnostic imaging was computed tomography employed in 96% of cases. The management consisted of 2 stages protocol, initially, a temporary axial traction was employed (54%), and later definitive surgical treatment was employed (93%). The posterior surgical approach was favored in 82% of cases. Conclusion: TPAD with fracture occurred in the majority of cases with Anderson and D'alonzo type II odontoid fracture, predominantly in males. Diagnosis is usually established based on computed tomography imaging; further imaging may not be indicated as it does not seem to alternate the patient's management course. Surgical intervention was employed in almost all cases, with favored results through posterior C1-C2 fusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-329
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Spine Surgery
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2023


  • C1 retrolisthesis
  • C1-C2 posterior instability
  • atlantoaxial dislocation
  • atlantoaxial fracture dislocation
  • atlantoaxial instability
  • atlantoaxial subluxation
  • posterior C1-C2 dislocation


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