Burst (Jefferson) Fracture

Injuries to the atlas are typically caused by axial loading to the head. These result in a burst fracture – often known as a Jefferson fracture.

The typical radiological findings are:

  • Overlap of the lateral masses of C1 on C2 on the peg view
  • On the lateral view, there is disruption to the pars of C1 and soft tissue oedema anterior to the upper cervical spine

CT will demonstrate the fracture clearly.

Although Jefferson fractures are potentially unstable fractures, the patient frequently has no neurological symptoms at presentation due to the widening of the spinal canal and exit foramina.