Background: Various methods have been used to image and measure the normal range of axial rotation of the atlantooccipital joint (AOJ), but a simple, precise, and reliable method is needed for everyday practice. Purpose: To generate normative ranges for AOJ rotation in various in-vivo positions and to investigate the reliability of a simple imaging method for measurement using routine high-field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Material and Methods: One hundred healthy volunteers were imaged on 3 T MRI with the AOJ in the center of the field of view. The scans were uniformly performed in seven different positions. The range of axial rotation was calculated by the angle between the craniofacial midline and the line linking the anterior and posterior tubercles of the atlas. The angle was defined as positive when it was angled right, and negative when it was angled left. The actual normative range of axial rotation was the difference between the angle in the supine neutral position and in the other positions. Results: The normative axial rotation range of the AOJ in different positions was between -4.8° and +5.0°. The mean values of the actual rotation angles in the right supine position with maximum bending, the right supine position maximum rotation, and the right prostrate position maximum rotation were 0.1°, 1.70°, and 0.8°, respectively. The mean values of actual rotation angles in the left supine position with maximum bending, the left supine position with maximum rotation, and the left prostrate positive with maximum rotation were 0.1°, -1.7°, and -1.1°, respectively. The inter-observer reliability tested. Conclusion: A simple and reliable method of measurement on 3.0 T MRI demonstrated the normative axial rotation range of the AOJ in different positions to be between -4.8° and +5.0° and it was different from zero in neutral rotation. This method could be practically used to precisely diagnose AOJ rotary subluxation or dislocation.
- Atlanto-occipital joint
- Magnetic resonance imaging
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging