Cervical spondylolysis: imaging findings in 12 patients.
Cervical spondylolysis is defined as a corticated cleft between the superior and inferior articular facets of the articular pilar, the cervical equivalent of the pars interarticularis in the lumbar spine. Associated dysplastic changes and spina bifida suggest that the lesion is congenital. It is a rare condition; only 70 cases have been previously reported in the world literature. Recognition of this disorder and differentiation from traumatic articular pilar fracture or dislocation is of paramount importance in patients who have had cervical spine trauma. The present study details radiologic features in 12 patients 20-80 years old with cervical spondylolysis. Plain film radiologic findings were correlated with hypocycloidal high-resolution tomography (nine patients), CT (six patients), and MR imaging (one patient). Seven patients had spondylolysis at C6 (three bilateral) and five had the abnormality at C4 (all unilateral). Nine of 12 patients were initially misdiagnosed. Characteristic radiologic features include (1) a well-marginated cleft between the facets, (2) a triangular configuration of the pilar fragments on either side of the spondylolytic defect, (3) posterior displacement of the dorsal triangular pillar fragment, (4) hypoplasia of the ipsilateral pedicle, (5) spina bifida at the involved level, and (6) compensatory hyper- or hypoplasia of the ipsilateral articular pillars at the level above and/or below the defect. A multistudy approach was often necessary to demonstrate these findings. Heightened awareness of the radiologic features of cervical spondylolysis should allow one to differentiate it from articular pillar fracture or dislocation.
Forsberg, DA; Martinez, S; Vogler, JB; Wiener, MD
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