Ponticulus posticus (PP) is the bony bridge that can completely or partially embrace the vertebral artery and the suboccipital nerve root at the atlas posterior arch. The PP can be a possible cause of vertigo, vertebrobasilar insufficiency, neck pain, shoulder pain, and cervicogenic headache. Moreover, the vertebral artery injury may happen during atlas lateral mass screw insertion in the presence of PP.
To determine the prevalence of PP in a population of patients undergoing dental cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT), and the association between PP and atlas superior articular facet (SAF).
A retrospective study.
Five hundred consecutive patients who had undergone dental CBCT scans.
Age, sex, and radiologic measures.
The maximum anteroposterior and transverse dimensions of atlas SAF were measured on the axial image, and then the area was calculated by using the formula for an elliptical area. The left-right differential ratios of the SAF in patients with unilateral PP were compared with those in age- and gender-matched patients without PP. The relationships among imaging findings, age, and sex were assessed with the two-tailed paired t test, χ2 test, and logistic regression model, as appropriate.
The overall prevalence of PP was 7% (35 of 500 patients). There were no significant differences in the prevalence of PP with gender and age. The anteroposterior dimension, transverse dimension, and area of atlas SAF on the PP side were significantly larger than those on the non-PP side in the 18 unilateral complete PP patients (p<.001, p<.001, p<.001, respectively), and in the 11 unilateral partial PP patients (p=.001, p=.007, p<.001, respectively). The SAF area differential ratios in patients with unilateral PP were greater than those in the patients without PP (29.8% vs. 2.9%, p=.002 for 18 complete lesions, and 23.5% vs. 1.8%, p<.001 for 11 partial lesions).
The prevalence of PP and the measurement of SAF can be assessed by CBCT. The imaging findings show the larger SAF on the PP side, and greater left-right difference of SAF area in the patients with unilateral PP.
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