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Case Reports in Critical Care
Volume 2012, Article ID 821565, 2 pages
Case Report

An Odontoid Fracture Causing Apnea, Cardiac Instability, and Quadriplegia

Department of Neurosurgery, Clinical Neurosciences Center, University of Utah, 175 N. Medical Drive East, Salt Lake City, UT 84132, USA

Received 19 July 2012; Accepted 2 September 2012

Academic Editors: A. Grippo and C. Lazzeri

Copyright © 2012 Christian A. Bowers et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Odontoid fractures are typically associated with low rates of acute neurologic deficit and morbidity/mortality in nonelderly patients. In the patient in this case, traumatic injury triggered by a syncopal event led to a combined C1-C2 fracture and a fatal spinal cord injury with apnea, quadriplegia, and cardiovascular instability. We briefly review the anatomical basis for the pathophysiology of cardiac dysfunction following high-cervical spine injury and present an example of a worst-case scenario.