Traumatic atlantoaxial rotatory fixation in an adult patient

Traumatic atlantoaxial rotatory fixation in an adult patient

María A. García-Pallero, Cristina V. Torres, Juan Delgado-Fernández, R. G. Sola

February 2019, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 284 - 289
DOI
10.1007/s00586-016-4916-3
First Online: 11 January 2017
Abstract

Abstract[InlineMediaObject not available: see fulltext.]

Introduction

Atlantoaxial rotational fixation (AARF) is a rare entity in adults, with only a few cases reported in the English literature and often associated with a traumatic mechanism. It is an underdiagnosed condition that must be taken into account in the initial assessment of all craniocervical trauma. Both diagnostic and therapeutic delay may be a potential cause of severe neurological damage or even death of the patient. The therapeutic management is controversial given the difficulty of achieving optimum stability and permanent reduction.

Methods and results

A 28-year-old woman was involved in a traffic accident a week before coming to the emergency with rotation and irreducible cervical flexion from trauma and severe neck pain. CT and MRI column were performed and showed a cervical spinal AARF with transverse and alar ligaments intact and preserved atlantoaxial distance (Fielding I). The patient was treated by progressive cervical traction with 5 kg and manual reduction was completed in 24 h. Subsequently, an external immobilization was performed by cervical rigid collar for 16 weeks. The clinical course was good, with the patient regaining full mobility with cervical neck pain improvement.

Conclusions

The purpose of this paper is to show a case of a young woman with a posttraumatic AARF successfully treated conservatively. This case delineates the difficulties in diagnosing this pathology, as well as the challenges encountered in its management.