Osteomyelitis of the odontoid process

J Spinal Disord. 1988;1(1):66-74.


Pyogenic osteomyelitis of the odontoid process is a rare condition requiring a high index of suspicion for diagnosis. The three cases presented illustrate that patients with severe neck pain, aggravated by rotation, and persistent fever without apparent source should be studied carefully to exclude infection of the C1-C2 area. The unusual anatomy of the C1-C2 articulation may make routine diagnostic studies difficult to interpret. Computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and 111In-labeled white blood cell scans may improve diagnostic accuracy. Treatment includes rigid immobilization, high dose antibiotics, and surgical stabilization in selected cases.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacterial Infections*
  • Humans
  • Indium Radioisotopes
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odontoid Process*
  • Orthotic Devices
  • Osteomyelitis / diagnosis
  • Osteomyelitis / microbiology*
  • Osteomyelitis / therapy
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Indium Radioisotopes