Survival rates in atlanto-occipital dissociation: a look at the past 20 years

Gautham Prabhakar, Galen Mills, David Momtaz, Abdullah Ghali, Christopher Chaput

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND CONTEXT: Atlanto-occipital dissociation (AOD) has historically been considered a fatal injury. Recent small case series, however, have suggested that AOD injuries have become increasingly survivable. There has not been an adequately powered study that confirms this. PURPOSE: The aim of this study is to assess whether the survival rate for patients with AOD increased over time. STUDY DESIGN/SETTING: Retrospective case series. PATIENT SAMPLE: Patients with traumatic AOD identified from our Level 1 Trauma Center database. OUTCOME MEASURES: Mortality following traumatic AOD. METHODS: Patients with traumatic AOD from 1996 to 2019 were retrospectively identified from our Level 1 Trauma Center database using International Classification of Diseases 9 and 10 codes. Patients were stratified into two cohorts- those diagnosed before August 1, 2015 and after. RESULTS: A total of 52 patients met our inclusion criteria and were analyzed. Mean age was 34.41 (11.71), with 34 (65.4) females, and 26 (50) Hispanics. Mean BMI was 28.13 (7.30), mean injury severity score was 40.79 (21.72), and mean Glasgow coma scale was 5.91 (4.72). Overall, 33 patients died (63.5%). The mortality rate before 2015 was 81.80%, this number dropped down to 50% for those who were treated post 2015 (p=.01). CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that patients treated recently for AOD at a level 1 trauma center were more likely to survive than patients treated in the past at the same center. Possible reasons for the improved survival rate seen in this study include: increased awareness of AOD, improved diagnostic protocols with more uniform computed tomography based imaging, and advances in the care of these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1535-1539
Number of pages5
JournalSpine Journal
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • AOD
  • Atlanto-occipital dissociation
  • Cervical
  • Survival rates
  • Trauma
  • Trends

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Survival rates in atlanto-occipital dissociation: a look at the past 20 years'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this