Atlanto-occipital fusion: An osteological study with clinical implications

N. M. Kassim, A. A. Latiff, S. Das, N. A. Ghafar, F. H. Suhaimi, F. Othman, F. Hussan, I. M. Sulaiman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Atlanto-occipital fusion may be symptomatic or asymptomatic in nature. The anomaly may be incidentally detected at autopsies or during routine cadaveric dissections. The fusion of the atlas with occipital bone may result in the compression of vertebral artery and first cervical nerve. Methods: A total of 55 dried occipital bones in the Department of Anatomy, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and Department of Anatomy, Universiti Malaya (UM) were included in the study. The presence of atlanto-occipital fusion was closely observed and morphometric measurements were taken. Results: Out of 55 dried occipital bones studied, we observed atlanto-occiptalization in two bones (3.63 %). A total of 53 occipital bones (96.37 %) did not exhibit any anomalous fusions. Out of the two anomalous atlanto-occiptal fusions, one was complete while the other had unilateral right-sided fusion of the atlas with the occipital bone. Conclusion: Atlanto-occipitalization may result in the compression of vertebral artery thereby influencing the blood flow to the brain. Atlanto-occipitalization may also result in compression of the first cervical nerve. The action of the postural muscles on the extensor surface may be affected as a result of this anomaly. The present article discusses the clinical implications of atlanto-occipitalization, which may be beneficial for neurosurgeons, neurologists and radiologists in day-to-day clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)562-565
Number of pages4
JournalBratislava Medical Journal
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Aalanto-occipital fusion
  • Anatomy
  • Anomaly
  • Vertebra

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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