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Journal of Craniovertebral Junction and Spine
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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 354-358

“Soft that molds the hard:” Geometric morphometry of lateral atlantoaxial joints focusing on the role of cartilage in changing the contour of bony articular surfaces

1 Department of Neurosurgery, PGIMER, Chandigarh, India
2 Department of Anatomy, PGIMER, Chandigarh, India
3 Department of Production and Industrial Engineering, PEC University of Technology, Chandigarh, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Pravin Salunke
Department of Neurosurgery, PGIMER, Sector 12, Chandigarh - 160 012
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jcvjs.JCVJS_109_17

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Purpose: The existing literature on lateral atlantoaxial joints is predominantly on bony facets and is unable to explain various C1-2 motions observed. Geometric morphometry of facets would help us in understanding the role of cartilages in C1-2 biomechanics/kinematics. Objective: Anthropometric measurements (bone and cartilage) of the atlantoaxial joint and to assess the role of cartilages in joint biomechanics. Materials and Methods: The authors studied 10 cadaveric atlantoaxial lateral joints with the articular cartilage in situ and after removing it, using three-dimensional laser scanner. The data were compared using geometric morphometry with emphasis on surface contours of articulating surfaces. Results: The bony inferior articular facet of atlas is concave in both sagittal and coronal plane. The bony superior articular facet of axis is convex in sagittal plane and is concave (laterally) and convex medially in the coronal plane. The bony articulating surfaces were nonconcordant. The articular cartilages of both C1 and C2 are biconvex in both planes and are thicker than the concavities of bony articulating surfaces. Conclusion: The biconvex structure of cartilage converts the surface morphology of C1-C2 bony facets from concave on concavo-convex to convex on convex. This reduces the contact point making the six degrees of freedom of motion possible and also makes the joint gyroscopic.

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