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Early reoccurrence of traumatic posterior atlantoaxial dislocation without fracture: A case report.

BACKGROUND: In general, atlantoaxial dislocation is rare due to the stability of the C1-C2 complex. Traumatic atlantoaxial dislocations are usually anterior and accompanied by odontoid fractures. Posterior atlantoaxial dislocations are rare, and complete posterior dislocation without associated fracture is even more rare. A case of early recurrence of posterior atlantoaxial dislocation without fracture being in therapy of first closed reduction and then open reduction has not been previously reported.

CASE SUMMARY: A 45-year-old female presented with traumatic posterior atlantoaxial dislocation (TPAD) of C1-C2 without associated fractures, and Frankel Grade B spinal cord function. She was successfully managed by immediate closed reduction under skull traction. Unexpectedly, 17 d later, re-dislocation was discovered. On day 28, closed reduction was performed as before but failed. Then, open reduction and posterior internal fixation with autologous iliac bone grafts was performed. By 6 mo after surgery, atlantoaxial joint fusion was achieved, and neurological function had recovered to Frankel Grade E. At 12 mo follow-up, she had lost only 15° of cervical rotation, and atlantoaxial complex instability in joint flexing and extending were no longer observed under fluoroscopy.

CONCLUSION: Early assessment of transverse ligament is critical for TPAD without fracture avoiding re-dislocation after closed reduction.

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