Atlantoaxial rotational fixation (AARF) is a rare entity in adults, with only a few cases reported in the English literature and often associated with a traumatic mechanism. It is an underdiagnosed condition that must be taken into account in the initial assessment of all craniocervical trauma. Both diagnostic and therapeutic delay may be a potential cause of severe neurological damage or even death of the patient. The therapeutic management is controversial given the difficulty of achieving optimum stability and permanent reduction.
The atlantoaxial rotatory fixation (AARF) and the atlantoaxial rotatory subluxation (AARS) are the most frequent manifestations of atlantoaxial rotatory dislocation (AARD) in children, and conservative treatment has proved to be suitable in many cases, considering the pathological features of these type of injuries. In literature, there is no agreement on the treatment modalities and the timing of conservative treatment.
A 28-year-old woman was involved in a traffic accident a week before coming to the emergency with rotation and irreducible cervical flexion from trauma and severe neck pain. CT and MRI column were performed and showed a cervical spinal AARF with transverse and alar ligaments intact and preserved atlantoaxial distance (Fielding I). The patient was treated by progressive cervical traction with 5 kg and manual reduction was completed in 24 h. Subsequently, an external immobilization was performed by cervical rigid collar for 16 weeks. The clinical course was good, with the patient regaining full mobility with cervical neck pain improvement.
The purpose of this paper is to show a case of a young woman with a posttraumatic AARF successfully treated conservatively. This case delineates the difficulties in diagnosing this pathology, as well as the challenges encountered in its management 1).