Early reoccurrence of traumatic posterior atlantoaxial dislocation without fracture: A case report

World J Clin Cases. 2021 Feb 26;9(6):1461-1468. doi: 10.12998/wjcc.v9.i6.1461.


Background: In general, atlantoaxial dislocation is rare due to the stability of the C1-C2 complex. Traumatic atlantoaxial dislocations are usually anterior and accompanied by odontoid fractures. Posterior atlantoaxial dislocations are rare, and complete posterior dislocation without associated fracture is even more rare. A case of early recurrence of posterior atlantoaxial dislocation without fracture being in therapy of first closed reduction and then open reduction has not been previously reported.

Case summary: A 45-year-old female presented with traumatic posterior atlantoaxial dislocation (TPAD) of C1-C2 without associated fractures, and Frankel Grade B spinal cord function. She was successfully managed by immediate closed reduction under skull traction. Unexpectedly, 17 d later, re-dislocation was discovered. On day 28, closed reduction was performed as before but failed. Then, open reduction and posterior internal fixation with autologous iliac bone grafts was performed. By 6 mo after surgery, atlantoaxial joint fusion was achieved, and neurological function had recovered to Frankel Grade E. At 12 mo follow-up, she had lost only 15° of cervical rotation, and atlantoaxial complex instability in joint flexing and extending were no longer observed under fluoroscopy.

Conclusion: Early assessment of transverse ligament is critical for TPAD without fracture avoiding re-dislocation after closed reduction.

Keywords: Case report; Reoccurrence; Transverse ligament; Traumatic posterior atlantoaxial dislocation; Without fracture.

Publication types

  • Case Reports