skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 136024 Find in a Library
Title: Neck Injuries: 1. Occipitoatlantal Dislocation -- A Pathologic Study of Twelve Traffic Fatalities
Journal: Journal of Forensic Sciences  Volume:37  Issue:2  Dated:(March 1992)  Pages:556-564
Author(s): V I Adams
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 9
Type: Report (Technical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study is part of a review of fatal traffic crashes investigated by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Central Massachusetts during the period July 1985 through July 1987.
Abstract: The study was limited to 155 traffic deaths in which the autopsy was performed by the author. Twelve of the 155 persons had occipitoatlantal dislocations. Nine were vehicular occupants, 2 were cyclists, and 1 was a pedestrian. The dislocations involved various combinations of lacerations of the alar ligaments, the occipitoatlantal joint capsules, the dura mater, the tectorial membrane, the rectus capitis muscles, and the suboccipital muscles. In two instances an occipital condyle failed instead of the corresponding alar ligament, producing condyle fractures. Atlas ring fractures occurred in three instances. Axial and subaxial cervical trauma were uncommon. Facial or mandibular fractures occurred in a majority of cases; vault skull fractures were uncommon; and basilar fractures were absent. Pontomedullary brainstem lacerations occurred in 9 of the 12, and 4 had midbrain lacerations. The majority of the victims experienced neurogenic shock as the sole or the major mechanism of death. This article discusses the biomechanical basis for occipitoatlantal dislocation. The article indicates that distraction -- in concert with variable combinations of extension, rotation, and posterior translation -- is responsible for occipitoatlantal dislocations. 2 figures, 1 table, and 24 references (Author abstract modified)
Main Term(s): Traffic accidents
Index Term(s): Autopsy; Fatalities
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.