Normal ossification patterns of atlas and axis: A CT study

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Abstract

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Development of the CVJ is a complex process rarely analyzed by CT. Cartilaginous remnants within the atlas and axis have been shown to variably persist throughout childhood and may be mistaken for fractures. The purpose of this study was to better estimate the fusion timeline of the synchondroses at the CVJ. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed singular CT scans in 550 children without known skeletal dysplasia or maturation delay (from neonate to 17 years) and analyzed the ossification of atlas and axis. Normal closing age for synchondroses was defined as soon as a complete ossification rate of 80% or more per age category was achieved. RESULTS: No separate OC was observed in 38 of 230 incompletely ossified AAAs, whereas single, bipartite, or multiple OCs were observed in, respectively, 196, 86, and 16 of 298 AAAs in which OCs could be identified. Synchondroses at the AAA closed after 12 years (range 4.5-17 years). Posterior midline synchondrosis of the atlas closed after 4 years (range 2-13 years). The axis ossified from 6 OCs and 4 synchondroses. Subdental and neurocentral synchondroses closed simultaneously after 9 years (range 7-9.5 years). Apicodental synchondrosis and chondrum terminale were completely ossified after 10.5 years (range 5.5-13.5 years). CONCLUSIONS: Analysis of the CVJ using triplanar CT reconstructions allows secure identification of characteristic developmental features of the atlas and axis, and helps to separate normal variants from true osseous lesions.

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Karwacki, G. M., & Schneider, J. F. (2012). Normal ossification patterns of atlas and axis: A CT study. American Journal of Neuroradiology, 33(10), 1882–1887. https://doi.org/10.3174/ajnr.A3105

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