J Korean Neurosurg Soc.  2019 Nov;62(6):661-670. 10.3340/jkns.2018.0234.

Upper Cervical Subluxation and Cervicomedullary Junction Compression in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • 1Department of Neurosurgery, Hanyang University Medical Center, Seoul, Korea. pkh2325@hanyang.ac.kr


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is known to involve the cervical spine up to 86%. It often causes cervical instability like atlantoaxial subluxation (AAS), subaxial subluxation, and vertical subluxation (VS). In order to find the relation between RA and cord compression, we will evaluate the characteristics and risk factors of basilar invagination (BI) and cervicomedullary junction (CMJ) compression.
From January 2007 to May 2015, 12667 patients administrated to Hanyang University Medical Center. Four thousand three hundred eighty-six patients took cervical X-ray and 250 patients took cervical computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging. Radiologic parameters, medication records were obtained from 242 patients. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was performed with correlation of CMJ compression, basin-dental interval (BDI), basin-posterior axial line interval (BAI), pannus formation, BI, and AAS.
In the point of CMJ compression, atlantodental interval (ADI), posterior-atlantodental interval, BAI, AAS, and BI are relatively highly correlated. Patients with BI have 82 times strong possibility of radiologic confirmed CMJ compression, while AAS has 6-fold and pannus formation has the 3-fold possibility. Compared to the low incidence of BI, AAS and pannus formation have more proportion in CMJ compression. Furthermore, wrist joint erosion was correlated with VS and AAS.
BI has a very strong possibility of CMJ compression, while AAS and pannus formation have a high proportion in CMJ compression. Hence bilateral wrist joint erosion can be used as an indicator for the timing of screening test for cervical involvement. We suggest the early recommendation of cervical spine examination for the diagnosis of cervical involvement in order to prevent morbidity and mortality.


Rheumatoid arthritis; Brainstem compression
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