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Radiology. 2000 Sep;216(3):635-44.

Occipital condylar fractures: a review.

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Departments of Radiology, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Policlinico "Agostino Gemelli," Largo Agostino Gemelli, Rome, Italy.


The purpose of this review article is to summarize the epidemiology, pertinent anatomy, mechanisms of injury, and classification systems of occipital condylar fractures (OCFs), as well as their clinical presentation and screening, the importance of computed tomography (CT) for detection, and current treatment options. The authors emphasize the rate of occurrence of OCFs, which may be detected in as many as 16% of patients with craniocervical injury. Clinical presentation is not specific, and OCF is not readily diagnosed at physical examination. Failure to diagnose may result in substantial morbidity, and thus accurate diagnosis is mandatory for both therapeutic and medicolegal implications. The diagnosis is most likely to be made with CT. Thin-section CT technique is the method of choice to evaluate the traumatized craniocervical junction. OCFs should be suspected in all patients sustaining high-energy blunt trauma to the head and/or upper cervical spine, resulting from axial loading, lateral bending and/or rotation, and/or direct blow. Besides a CT study assessing potential intracranial injuries, these patients require CT of the craniocervical junction. Radiologists should be aware of the types of OCFs and associated injuries.

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