Occipital condyle fracture in the pediatric population: A management algorithm and systematic review

J Child Orthop. 2024 Feb 13;18(2):216-228. doi: 10.1177/18632521241229301. eCollection 2024 Apr.


Purpose: This study aims to develop an accessible stepwise management algorithm for pediatric presentations of occipital condyle fractures (OCFs) based on a systematic review of the published literature regarding diagnostic evaluation, treatment, and outcomes.

Methods: A systematic review of the literature was conducted on PubMed to locate English language studies reporting on the management of pediatric OCFs. Data extraction of clinical presentation, management strategies, imaging, and treatment outcome was performed.

Results: A total of 15 studies reporting on 38 patients aged 18 years and younger presenting with OCFs were identified. Loss of consciousness (LOC), depressed level of consciousness, neck pain, decreased neck range of motion (ROM), and cranial nerve injury were the most common presenting symptoms. Diagnostic imaging included radiographs, computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and functional radiographs to assess cervical stability. Treatment options varied and included soft collar, hard collar, and halo vest. All studies resulted in a complete healing of the OCF, with resolution of associated pain.

Conclusion: The proposed treatment algorithm suggests a framework for the management of pediatric OCFs based on the available evidence (levels of evidence: 3, 4). This review of the literature indicated that a stepwise approach should be utilized in the management of isolated pediatric OCFs.

Keywords: Occipital condyle fracture; children; craniocervical junction; management algorithm; pediatrics.

Publication types

  • Review