Trabecular Anatomy of the Axis Vertebra: A Study of Shaded Volume-Rendered Computed Tomography Images

K. Venugopal Menon*, Sameer B. Raniga

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background To date, trabecular morphology studies have been conducted on thin-section computed tomography (CT) scans of cadaveric bone. Here we describe the trabecular anatomy of the axis vertebra as revealed by an innovative imaging tool. Methods Ten patients who underwent thin-slice CT scans for suspected cervical spine injury were prospectively subjected to shaded volume-rendered 3-dimensional reconstruction of the images. The trabecular anatomy thus depicted was recreated, and the mechanical vectors were deduced independently by a senior radiologist and spine surgeon and then matched. The clinical implications were postulated. Results The most striking trabeculae are the vertical compression trabeculae connecting the C1 facet to the C3 body. The center of the body of C2 has a space with sparse trabeculae; similarly, the pars interarticularis also has a clear void. The dens contain predominantly tensile trabeculae that are retained even in older patients. Midline remnants of the odontoid body synchondrosis persist even into late adulthood. Conclusions Shaded volume-rendered imaging appears to be an excellent tool for studying the trabecular anatomy of cancellous bone. The weight-bearing trabeculae run from the C1-2 facet to the C3 body; the inferior facet contributes little to weight-bearing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)526-532.e10
JournalWorld Neurosurgery
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


  • Axis vertebra
  • C2 vertebra
  • Cervical pedicle screw
  • Internal architecture
  • Reformatted CT imaging
  • Trabecular morphology
  • Volume-rendered CT imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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