Early diagnosis of Grisel’s syndrome in children with favorable outcome



The painful torticollis only itself may be a major sign for the diagnosis of Grisel’s syndrome (GS). It is known as an inflammatory atlantoaxial rotatory subluxation following upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) and surgical otolaryngological procedures.

Patients and methods

The analysis of 16 pediatric GS patients were reviewed retrospectively by considering the diagnosis, the treatment modality, and the prognosis at the Department of Neurosurgery and Otorhinolaryngology in Mersin University, Faculty of Medicine between 2008 and 2018. In addition to the clinical cases, five cadavers were used to demonstrate atlantoaxial region, particularly the ligamentous complex and articulation of the atlas-axis, for the mechanism of these rare entities.


The most common etiological factor of GS was URTI with 81.25% among 16 patients. Painful torticollis was the primary symptom of pediatric patients at admission. The X-Ray, computerized tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) investigations were used for the definitive diagnosis in the first week of admission, except one. No morbidity, mortality, and deformity were reported in this series.


Early diagnosis is the principle of GS for avoiding of permanent neck deformity and complex surgical procedures. If GS can be diagnosed without any doubt by only considering patient’s history and clinical examination, CT scan is not recommended due to harmful effects of radiation. The treatment was achieved by reduction, external fixation under analgesia, or sedoanalgesia accompanying with antibiotic and anti-phylogistic treatment.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Hakan Ozalp.

Additional information

This study has been presented for oral presentation in 32nd Scientific Congress of Turkish Neurosurgical Society. April 2018/Antalya/Turkey.

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Ozalp, H., Hamzaoglu, V., Avci, E. et al. Early diagnosis of Grisel’s syndrome in children with favorable outcome. Childs Nerv Syst 35, 113–118 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00381-018-3996-2

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  • Atlantoaxial rotatory subluxation
  • Grisel’s syndrome
  • Painful torticollis
  • Upper respiratory tract infection
  • Pediatric patient