New Subtype of Atlantoaxial Rotatory Fixation (Type IIIa)

World Neurosurg. 2023 Feb:170:e622-e628. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2022.11.080. Epub 2022 Nov 19.


Objective: Some atlantoaxial rotatory fixations (AARFs) cannot be classified according to the Fielding and Hawkins classification. This study aimed to introduce a new subtype of AARF (type IIIa AARF) with a C1 anterior displacement >5 mm, but with one lateral mass being displaced anteriorly and another posteriorly.

Methods: Data from 10 cases of AARF with anterior C1 displacement of >5 mm were retrospectively reviewed. The exclusion criteria were as follows: 1) type I, II, or IV AARF according to the Fielding and Hawkins classification; 2) cases caused by trauma, tumor, or infection; 3) AARF with os odontoideum or odontoid fracture; and 4)age ≥18 years. Imaging features were analyzed. The atlanto-dental interval was measured to evaluate C1 anterior displacement.

Results: Three cases that did not match type III AARF were classified under type IIIa AARF. They had the following common imaging features: 1) atlanto-dental interval of >5 mm, being similar to type III AARF; 2) one lateral mass of C1 displaced anteriorly and the other posteriorly (the most important feature distinguishing the type from type III AARF in which both C1 lateral masses displaced anteriorly); and 3) C1-C2 separation angle (mean 44.2 ± 2.9°) being larger than that in type III AARF.

Conclusions: AARF with anterior C1 displacement of >5 mm, but with one lateral mass displaced anteriorly and the other posteriorly, was defined as type IIIa AARF. It should not be confused with type III AARF because these 2 types differ in biomechanics and imaging parameters.

Keywords: Atlantoaxial rotatory dislocation; Atlantoaxial rotatory fixation; Atlantoaxial rotatory subluxation; Children; Classification; Transverse ligament.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Atlanto-Axial Joint* / diagnostic imaging
  • Atlanto-Axial Joint* / injuries
  • Atlanto-Axial Joint* / surgery
  • Axis, Cervical Vertebra*
  • Humans
  • Joint Dislocations* / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rotation
  • Spinal Fusion* / methods