Tag Archives: Neuroradiology

Suspected Type I Rotatory Atlatoaxial Subluxation in Asymptomatic Patients

type I Atlantoaxial Rotatory Subluxation

In an earlier post on rotatory atlatoaxial subluxation, we discussed the Fielding and Hawkins classification, and its application to symptomatic patients (e.g., those with torticollis). Here, we discuss the challenge of making a diagnosis of rotatory atlatoaxial subluxation in unselected patients.

That is, what do you do if your neck or c-spine CT scan is obtained with the head turned, and you see what looks like a Type I rotatory atlatoaxial subluxation?

The patient below was referred to our institution in a cervical collar for management of atlantoaxial rotatory subluxation.

normal head rotation

30-year-old man: Thick reconstructions centered at C1-C2 from a CTA obtained with the head rotated to the left. There is apparent type I atlantoaxial rotatory subluxation.

 

Let’s take a look at what we know:

  • Normal maximum rotation of the head on body is between 60–80°.
  • Normal maximum rotation of C1 on C2 makes up for about half of that: 30–45° (although some sources say it can be up to 50°).
  • Cutoff for abnormal C1-C2 rotation: >45° or >56°, depending on source.

Looking at our image above, our rotation of C1 on C2 is about 30 degrees, which puts it in the normal range. But, what if the number was higher? How well do we do as radiologists in correctly identifying this as normal?

One study that was helpful came from the forensic field. Pathologists had noted that CTs of cadavers, which are impossible to position “correctly,” were resulting in a lot of over-calling of atlantoaxial rotatory subluxation. When they looked at their data they found:

  • 19 cases where the C-spine was stable on autopsy. In those 19, 13 had suspected rotatory subluxation based on on CT (false positives)
  • The C1-C2 angle in those 13 false positives were between 16–47°.
  • All false positives were type I.
  • 2 cases where the C-spine was unstable at autopsy. In those 2 cases, 1 had suspected rotatory subluxation on CT (true positive).
  • The C1-C2 angle in the 1 true positive was 42°.
  • There was a significant association between the false positives and degree of head rotation.

Generalizing this cadaveric study suggests that we need to be careful in calling type I atlantoaxial rotatory subluxation in asymptomatic patients who simply happen to have their head turned in the scanner. This supports the conclusions from a study in living, asymptomatic patients, where the authors showed that incomplete rotational facet displacement on CT was not sufficient to define subluxation.

References

Bisphosphonate-related Osteonecrosis of the Jaw

Bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis of the jaw (BRONJ) is associated with the use of bisphosphonates to treat severe osteoporosis, and metabolic and oncologic bone conditions, including hypercalcemia associated with malignancy. These agents inhibit osteoclasts, reducing bone resorption and osteolysis, and also possess antiangiogenic properties, reducing blood flow and necrosis. Patients with BRONJ present with pain and exposed, nonvital bone involving the maxillofacial structures. The incidence of BRONJ increases with the duration of treatment, especially with the intravenous route and concomitant steroid therapy. The osteonecrosis usually is participated by dental extraction. When spontaneous, it commonly occurs along the mylohyoid ridge. BRONJ can mimic osteomyelitis and osteoradionecrosis. A history of dental caries and the presence of periosteal elevation can help direct one towards the diagnosis of osteomyelitis. Osteoradionecrosis can be excluded if the patient has not received oropharyngeal radiation therapy. Jaw neoplasm, primary or metastatic, can potentially also mimic BRONJ. Treatment of BRONJ consists of cessation of bisphosphonate drug therapy, antibiotics for secondary infection, and surgical debridement of necrotic sequestra.

Ryan Schwope BROJN1
Figure 1: Axial CT of the facial bones. There is a mixed sclerotic and lytic lesion within the mandible (Figure 1, arrows) with foci of cortical interruption (Figure 2, arrowheads).
Ryan Schwope BROJN 2
Figure 2: Sagital CT of the facial bones. There is a mixed sclerotic and lytic lesion within the mandible (Figure 1, arrows) with foci of cortical interruption (Figure 2, arrowheads).

References: