Alexandros G. Brotis, Tsiamalou M. Paraskevi, Parmenion Tsitsopoulos, Anastasia Tasiou, Georgios Fotakopoulos, Kostas N. Fountas

April 2015, Volume 24, Issue 5, pp 931 - 939 Review Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-015-3877-2

First Online: 22 March 2015


The cranio-cervical junction (CCJ) is an anatomically, functionally and biomechanically complex region. It is commonly involved in trauma of varying severity that can be managed with a multitude of treatment options and carry diverse prognosis. Our objective is to evaluate the quality of currently used CCJ injury classifications in an evidence-based approach.


We performed two consecutive literature reviews. In the first, we tried to find which classifications are currently used in CCJ injuries. In the second, we scrutinized the gathered classifications in terms of validity, reliability, severity grading, treatment guidance and prognosis assessment.


Twenty classifications are currently used to describe the CCJ injuries and 72 individual injury patterns have been recognized. Almost a third of them can grade severity, guide treatment and assess prognosis. Only two classifications have been tested for validity and reliability.


CCJ injuries are poorly described by the current classifications according to evidence-based criteria. There is an obvious need for a simple and reliable classification tool to guide patient management in the evidence-based medicine era.

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