Brown-Sèquard syndrome caused by type III odontoid fracture: a case report and review of the literature

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2010 Jan 1;35(1):E27-30. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e3181ba2a6a.


Study design: Case report.

Objective: To present the second case of Brown-Sèquard syndrome (BSS) produced by type III odontoid fracture managed by conservative treatment.

Summary of background data: The occurrence of BSS due to odontoid fracture is scarce. So far 6 cases have been reported, and only 1 is produced by type III odontoid fracture. The possible pathophysiology, clinical course and treatment outcome have been rarely discussed.

Methods: A 39-year-old man presented with weakness of his left arm and leg, mild neck pain, and impaired proprioceptive and light touch sensations below the left C2 dermatome. There were decreased pain and temperature sensations below the right C4 dermatome too. Computerized tomography showed odontoid type III fracture with posterior displacement at that level. Magnetic resonance imaging presented focal hyperintensity around the C2 vertebral level. High dose of prednisolone, close reduction with Gardner-Wells tong skull traction, following external stabilization by Halo-Vest and rehabilitation therapy were applied.

Results: Complete resolution of neck pain and significant improvement of motor and sensory functions, i.e., light touch and proprioception, were shown 2 months after spinal injury. Impaired temperature discrimination persisted, however.

Conclusion: BSS is rarely caused by type III odontoid fracture and this is the second report. Conservative intervention is advantageous for both type III odontoid fracture and BSS which is consistent with previous results.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Brown-Sequard Syndrome / diagnostic imaging
  • Brown-Sequard Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Brown-Sequard Syndrome / etiology*
  • Brown-Sequard Syndrome / rehabilitation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methylprednisolone / therapeutic use
  • Odontoid Process / diagnostic imaging
  • Odontoid Process / injuries*
  • Radiography
  • Spinal Fractures / complications*
  • Spinal Fractures / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Fractures / drug therapy
  • Spinal Fractures / rehabilitation
  • Traction
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Methylprednisolone