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Type II odontoid fracture from frontal impact

Case report and biomechanical mechanism of injury

Narayan Yoganandan, Jamie L. Baisden, Dennis J. Maiman and Frank A. Pintar

✓ The authors report a case of Type II odontoid fracture from a frontal impact sustained in the crash of a late-model motor vehicle. They discuss the biomechanical mechanisms of injury after considering patient demographic data, type and use of restraint systems including seatbelt and airbags, crash characteristics, and laboratory-based experimental studies. Multiple factors contributed to the Type II odontoid fracture: the patient's tall stature and intoxicated state; lack of manual three-point seat belt use; obliqueness of the frontal impact; and the most likely preflexed position of the head—neck complex at the time of impact, which led to contact of the parietal region with the A-pillar roof-rail area of the vehicle and resulted in the transfer of the dynamic compressive force associated with lateral bending. Odontoid fractures still occur in individuals involved in late-model motor vehicle frontal crashes, and because this injury occurs secondary to head impact, airbags may not play a major role in mitigating this type of trauma to an unrestrained occupant. It may be more important to use seat belts than to depend on the airbag alone for protection from injury.

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Brian D. Stemper, Jamie L. Baisden, Narayan Yoganandan, Barry S. Shender and Dennis J. Maiman


Segmental instability in the lumbar spine can result from a number of mechanisms including intervertebral disc degeneration and facet joint degradation. Under traumatic circumstances, elevated loading may lead to mechanical yield of the annular fibers, which can decrease load-carrying capacity and contribute to instability. The purpose of this study was to quantify the biomechanics of intervertebral annular yield during tensile loading with respect to spinal level and anatomical region within the intervertebral disc.


This laboratory-based study incorporated isolated lumbar spine annular specimens from younger and normal or mildly degenerated intervertebral discs. Specimens were quasi-statically distracted to failure in an environmentally controlled chamber. Stress and strain associated with yield and ultimate failure were quantified, as was stiffness in the elastic and postyield regions. Analysis of variance was used to determine statistically significant differences based on lumbar spine level, radial position, and anatomical region of the disc.


Annular specimens demonstrated a nonlinear response consisting of the following: toe region, linear elastic region, yield point, postyield region, and ultimate failure point. Regional dependency was identified between deep and superficial fibers. Mechanical yield was evident prior to ultimate failure in 98% of the specimens and occurred at approximately 80% and 74% of the stress and strain, respectively, to ultimate failure. Fiber modulus decreased by 34% following yield.


Data in this study demonstrated that yielding of intervertebral disc fibers occurs relatively early in the mechanical response of the tissues and that stiffness is considerably decreased following yield. Therefore, yielding of annular fibers may result in decreased segmental stability, contributing to accelerated degeneration of bony components and possible idiopathic pain.