Spine Archive: Atlas Fracture

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Jefferson (Atlas) Fractures

Atlas fractures, more commonly referred to as Jefferson fractures are bone fractures along the vertebrae in the upper spinal region below the head. This fracture can be the result of over-extension of the neck or an abnormal load on the head.

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Atlas Fractures, Buffalo, NY

Spinal fractures are not only extremely painful, but limit motion as well. Contact Dr. Leone to learn more.

Fractures of the atlas constitute approximately 7% of cervical spine fractures. Jefferson fractures are bilateral fractures of the anterior and posterior arches resulting from an axial load. Long-term stability depends on the mechanism of injury and subsequent healing of the transverse ligament. Studies indicate that a combined lateral mass displacement in excess of 7 mm strongly suggests ligament disruption.¹

¹R. Vaccaro MD, Alexander. Orthopaedic Knowledge Update. Rosemont: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2005.

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Fractures of the Atlas

Atlas fractures comprise 2% to 13% of all cervical spine fractures, are seen in younger age groups (mean age 30 years), and are most commonly the result of motor vehicle accidents. These fractures are caused by axial loading and, therefore, commonly accompany head injuries in the polytrauma patient.

¹Abitbol MD, Jean-Jacques. Orthopaedic Knowledge Update: Spine. Rosemont: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2002.

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