Management of acute combined fractures of the atlas and axis: A retrospective study of two trauma centers

Joseph Di Domenico, Kingsley Abode-Iyamah, Ryan Khanna, Helena Roberts, Patrick A. Hitchon, Zachary A. Smith, Nader S. Dahdaleh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Management of combination fractures of the atlas and axis varies from nonoperative immobilization to selective early surgical intervention. In this study, we present our experience in managing these injuries. Materials and Methods: Electronic databases from two level 1 trauma centers were queried to identify all patients diagnosed with C1-C2 combination fractures from 2009 to present. Patient demographics, fracture characteristics, treatment modality, complications, Frankel scores, and fusion status were collected. Patients were separated into operative and nonoperative cohorts, and comparisons were made between the two groups. Results: Forty-eight patients were included, of which 19 received operative management and 29 were treated nonoperatively. The mean age was 76.1 and 75.3 years, respectively (P = 0.877). Frankel grade distribution was similar on presentation in both groups, with most being neurologically intact. C1 fractures of both the anterior and posterior arch were present in 41.2% patients undergoing fusions compared to 27.6% of patients treated nonoperatively. No significant differences in comorbidities, neurologic deficits, or radiographic measurements were observed across the two groups. Conclusions: This study demonstrates the variety of treatment strategies used for the management of combined C1-C2 fractures. Patients managed operatively tend to have both anterior and posterior C1 arch fractures, while patients managed nonoperatively tend to have either anterior or posterior arch fractures. In general, treatments should be tailored to patients' needs depending on the stability of the fractures, neurological state, and medical comorbidities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-315
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Craniovertebral Junction and Spine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017


  • Atlantoaxial
  • C1
  • C2
  • atlas
  • axis
  • cervical fracture
  • combination fractures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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