Cervical Anatomy and Pathology - Upper Cervical Spine, Elderly Man

Sagittal section through the upper cervical spine of elderly male

Sagittal section through the upper cervical spine of an elderly man who had not had neck symptoms. The section is carried through the left lateral mass and the occipital condyle. The dark venous channels in the occipital bone are the hypoglossal canal on the left and a small portion of the sigmoid sinus to the right. The convex occipital condyle has a normal cartilage and articulates with the concave and moderately degenerated articular surface of the atlas (C1) which also displays subchondral sclerosis. The occipito–atlantal joint has a ball–and–socket shape that permits flexion–extension and lateral bending. By contrast, the atlanto–axial joint (C1–C2) facilitates axial rotation (around the axis of the odontoid process) by translation (sliding) of the convex joint surfaces. Meniscoid synovial folds project into the C1–C2 joint space anteriorly and posteriorly. The spaces above and below the arch of the atlas are occupied by wide venous sinuses. Between the occiput and C1 the vertebral artery (red) and the small C1 nerve behind the artery are completely surrounded by the venous sinusoid, between the C1 lamina and the pars interarticularis of C2 a venous cavern surrounds the large C2 root ganglion (yellow).

Updated on: 11/29/18

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