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J Neurosurg Spine. 2011 Sep;15(3):328-31. doi: 10.3171/2011.5.SPINE10778. Epub 2011 Jun 3.

Computed tomography-based morphometric analysis of the human occipital condyle for occipital condyle-cervical fusion.

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Department of Neurosurgery and Brain Repair, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida 33606, USA.



Occipital condyle screws serve as an alternative fixation point in occipital-cervical fusion. Their placement requires a thorough understanding of the anatomy of the occipital condyles and associated structures. This study is a CT-based morphometric analysis of occipital condyles as related to occipital condyle-cervical fusion.


A total of 170 patients were examined with CT scans of the craniocervical junction at a single institution, for a total of 340 occipital condyles, between March 6, 2006, and July 30, 2006. All CT scans were negative for traumatic, degenerative, and neoplastic pathological entities. Condylar anteroposterior (AP) length, transverse width, height, projected screw angle, and projected screw lengths were measured on an EBW Portal 2.5 CT Viewer Workstation (Philips Electronics). The longest axis in the AP orientation of the occipital condyle was accepted as the length. The transverse width was a line perpendicular to the midpoint of the long axis. The height was measured in the coronal projection that had the thickest craniocaudal portion of the condyle. The screw trajectory started 5 mm lateral to the medial edge of the condyle and a line was directed anteromedially in the longest axis. The angle was measured relative to the sagittal midline. The screw length was measured from the outer cortex of the posterior wall to the outer cortex of the anterior wall.


The mean ± SD values for occipital condyle measurements were as follows: AP length was 22.38 ± 2.19 mm (range 14.7-27.6 mm); width was 11.18 ± 1.44 mm (range 7.4-19.0 mm); height was 9.92 ± 1.30 mm (range 5.1-14.3 mm); screw angle was 20.30° ± 4.89° (range 8.0°-34.0°); and screw length was 20.30 ± 2.24 mm (range 13.0-27.6 mm).


These measurements correlate with previous cadaveric and radiographic studies of the occipital condyle, and emphasize the role of preoperative planning for the feasibility of placement of an occipital condyle screw.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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