Skip to Main Content

  • Cervical spondylolisthesis

  • 738.4 Acquired spondylolisthesis
  • 756.12 Spondylolisthesis congenital
  • 805.02 Closed fracture of second cervical vertebra

  • M43.10 Spondylolisthesis, site unspecified
  • Q76.2 Congenital spondylolisthesis
  • S12.100A Unspecified displaced fracture of second cervical vertebra, initial encounter for closed fracture
  • S12.101A Unspecified nondisplaced fracture of second cervical vertebra, initial encounter for closed fracture


  • Anterior (forward) translation of a vertebra
  • Fracture of the pedicles on the vertebra below
  • Slipping of the vertebra in relationship to the vertebra below
  • Neurogenic claudication
  • Fracture widens at the pars
  • Hangman’s fracture
    • C2 vertebra anterior translated on C3 with fracture of C2 pedicles

Essentials of Diagnosis

General Considerations


  • May be congenital or acquired

Signs and Symptoms

  • Cervical, shoulder, arm, upper extremity pain and parasthesia, often radiating into the lower extremities if central cord involvement
  • Constricted pupil (Horner’s sign)
  • Stiffness along spine
  • Headaches
  • Pain in cervical spine worsens with extension
  • Diminished sensation, motor control, and reflexes in the distribution of the involved nerve
  • Neurogenic claudication

Functional Implications

  • Difficulty sustaining standing postures secondary to neck and arm pain
  • Inability to sleep flat on the back without a pillow
  • Weakness with lifting
  • Loss of movement or feeling in the upper extremity
  • Difficulty with movements secondary to pain, especially reaching overhead
  • Limited sports participation

Possible Contributing Causes

  • Forceful extension from hit under the chin (sports)
  • Congenital
  • Car accident, hit from rear
  • Hyperextension of the cervical spine
  • Suicidal hanging
  • Increased cervical lordosis posture

Differential Diagnosis

  • Peripheral nerve impairment
  • Spinal tumor
  • Infection
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Paraspinal spasms
  • Degenerative disk disease
  • Stenosis


  • MRI helpful in diagnosis to visualize compressed or inflamed nerve root
  • X-ray/plain-film radiograph to see vertebra position (Scottie dog collar)
  • CT scan to show herniation compressing the spinal canal or nerves
  • Electrodiagnostic/nerve conduction testing can help to determine a specific impaired nerve function

  • Cervical vertebra anterior translated on the lower cervical vertebrae with fracture of pedicles

  • Restricted mobility of ...

Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.