Morphology and treatment of occipital condyle fractures

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1988 Jul;13(7):731-6. doi: 10.1097/00007632-198807000-00004.


During the last 4 years, the authors have had six cases of occipital condyle fractures, a very rare injury. Medline search yielded reports of 20 occipital condyle fractures in the literature. Of the six treated by the authors, one death (by pontine hemorrhage) occurred in a patient with a displaced avulsion fracture on the right occipital condyle (Type III). All others attained solid union with appropriate immobilization. Morphologically, one presented with an impacted fracture of the occipital condyle (Type I), one with a basilar skull fracture that included an occipital condyle fracture (Type II), and four had avulsion fractures of the occipital condyle. The latter are potentially unstable since loss of integrity of alar ligaments may coexist. Type I and II are stable, and the authors recommend treatment with a semiconstrained cervical orthosis. Type III injuries, which are potentially unstable, require rigid immobilization.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child, Preschool
  • Fractures, Bone / classification*
  • Fractures, Bone / diagnostic imaging
  • Fractures, Bone / therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Occipital Bone / diagnostic imaging
  • Occipital Bone / injuries*
  • Orthotic Devices
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed