Background and purpose: Identify patients with a dorsal epidural hematoma at C1-C2 and examine the major craniocervical junction ligaments for injury on follow-up magnetic resonance imaging.
Materials and methods: Adult and pediatric trauma patients who suffered a dorsal epidural hematoma at C1-C2 were identified using Nuance mPower software (Nuance Communications, United States). The cervical computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging exams for these patients were reviewed for craniocervical junction osteoligamentous injuries. An age-matched control group was obtained.
Results: Eight trauma patients were identified with a dorsal epidural fluid collection at C1-C2. All patients with a dorsal epidural hematoma, who underwent follow-up cervical magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated a stripping injury of the posterior atlanto-occipital membrane from the C1 posterior arch with increased short tau inversion recovery signal in the posterior atlanto-occipital membrane complex. Disruption of additional major craniocervcial ligaments on magnetic resonance imaging was relatively common with the most frequently associated ligamentous injuries involving the tectorial membrane (five patients) followed by the alar ligaments and anterior altanto-occiptial membrane (four patients each). Conclusions: A C1-C2 dorsal epidural hematoma is a rare injury that may be identified on cervical spine computed tomography but may be easily overlooked by the radiologist. We propose that a C1-C2 dorsal epidural hematoma is a direct result of a significant hyperflexion-hyperextension force with subsequent stripping of the posterior atlanto-occipital membrane from the posterior C1 arch. Trauma patients with a C1-C2 dorsal epidural hematoma on cervical spine computed tomography should undergo a cervical magnetic resonance imaging examination to evaluate the integrity of the posterior atlanto-occipital membrane complex and remaining craniocervical junction ligaments for injury.
Keywords: computed tomography; dorsal epidural hematoma; magnetic resonance imaging; posterior atlanto-occipital membrane; trauma.
Copyright © 2021, Fiester et al.