Prevalence and characteristics of ponticulus posticus and its association with cervicogenic headache and migraine: A lateral cephalometric study

J Res Med Sci. 2022 Aug 27:27:61. doi: 10.4103/jrms.jrms_384_21. eCollection 2022.


Background: Ponticulus posticus (PP) (arcuate foramen) is an abnormal bony bridge in the posterior arch of the atlas, which could possibly cause certain complications such as headache. Our goal was to assess the prevalence and size of PP on lateral cephalometric radiographs and its relationships with cervicogenic headache and migraine.

Materials and methods: This cross-sectional study was a descriptive-analytical type and was performed in Isfahan Azad Dental University. Lateral cephalometric radiographs of 150 patients referred to the radiology department were selected to assess the prevalence and size of the anomaly. A checklist was prepared to evaluate cervicogenic headache and migraine among patients.

Results: Our sample consisted of 97 females and 53 males with an age range between 5 and 56 years. The prevalence of PP was 21.3% (12% complete and 9.3% incomplete), and an insignificant difference was noted between the prevalence of complete and incomplete foramen (P > 0.05). The prevalence of foramen was higher in women (59.4%), but it was not significant. The mean width of complete foramen was 6.40 mm, and the mean heights in individuals with complete and incomplete foramen were 4.71 and 4.84 mm, respectively. Among patients with the anomaly, 43.8% had cervicogenic headache and 9.4% had migraine. There was a significant association between the presence of foramen and both types of headaches (P < 0.05). However, there was no significant correlation between the shape of anomaly and the presence of cervicogenic headache and migraine (P > 0.05).

Conclusion: Our study showed a high prevalence of PP and its significant association with cervicogenic headache and migraine.

Keywords: Atlas; Iran; headache; lateral cephalometry; ponticulus posticus.