International Journal of Current Research and Review
ISSN: 2231-2196 (Print)ISSN: 0975-5241 (Online)
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IJCRR - Vol 05 Issue 15 , August, 2013

Pages: 31-34

Date of Publication: 17-Aug-2013

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Author: S. Kavitha, Shanta Chandrasekaran, A. Anand, K.C. Shanthi

Category: Healthcare

Abstract:Aim: The two bony projections that are present in the inferior surface of the occipital bone in the skull are called as Occipital condyles. They are present on either side of the foramen magnum in the base of skull. This study aims to document the dimensions of occipital condyles and its variations which are of paramount importance to neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons and radiologist when dealing with transcondylar surgical approaches and condylectomies. Methodology: The shapes of the occipital condyles were observed and the measurements like length, and breadth were measured. Results: The shape of occipital condyle varied from oval to crescent. Some shapes did not fit text book description. The mean length of occipital condyle of right side was 21.97 mm and left side was 22.34 mm. Conclusion: The documented parameters of the occipital condyles and its variations will serve as a guide line for surgeons in future.

Keywords: Condyles, shape, occipital bone

Full Text:


The posterior part of the human skull is largely formed by the occipital bone. Adjoining the foramen magnum the occipital condyles are present. The superior articular facet of the atlas articulates with the occipital condyles to form the atlanto occipital joint. The occipital condyles are oval in shape and placed in an oblique manner so that its anterior end lies closer to the midline than its posterior end1. Occipital condyles are important element to maintain the head vertically. It is necessary for the stability of the craniovertebral junction. Occipital condylar fractures are a dangerous proposition due to the intimacy of the occipital condyles to the neurovascular structures abutting it 2.

Understanding the anatomical basis of craniovertebral anomalies is important when carrying out surgeries in the region. Lateral approaches during craniovertebral surgery require resection of the occipital condyles and In the Transcondylar approach, the Morphometry of the occipital condyles is a must 3. Symmetry of the occipital condyles does not pose any difficulty in flexion, extension and lateral bending but asymmetrical facets will give rise to altered kinematics in the atlanto occipital joint 4. Many patients who suffer a closed head injury are at risk for occipital condylar fractures 5. Hence the Morphometric analysis of occipital condyles and their facet is important clinically. So the present study will serve as a guideline for the dimensions of occipital condyles and their morphological variations in dry adult human skulls.


About 145 human skulls were obtained from the department of Anatomy, Vinayaka Missions Kirupananda Variyar Medical College, Salem for the purpose of study. Damaged and pathological skulls were excluded from the study.

The equipments used for the purpose of study were

  • Vernier calipers,
  • Measuring scale
  • Digital photography equipment

The following parameters were measured on both right and left sides

  • Length – measured from the tip of the condyles in a vertical direction
  • Breadth – measured from the tip of the condyles in a horizontal direction
  • Shapes – all different shapes were documented

Statistical Analysis

Standard deviation, mean values and the range (Table -1) were calculated from the obtained results and parameters measured were evaluated by the paired sample t test (Table - 3) to differentiate between the right and the left sides. The resultant p value was less than 0.05 making it statistically significant.


Of the 145 skulls studied the mean length of the occipital condyle on the right side was 21.97 mm and the mean length on the left side was 22.34 mm which was comparable with other studies. The mean width of the occipital condyle on the right side was 13.05 mm and the mean width on the left side was 13.30 mm which is significantly wider than other studies. The shape of the occipital condyles varied from being oval (Fig – 1) (R = 30.34% L = 31.03%), (Fig – 2) oblong (R = 29.65% L = 30.34%), (Fig – 3) crescent (R = 31.72% L = 30.34%) and (Fig – 4) rhomboid (R = 7.58% L = 8.27%). The commonest shapes were crescent and oval shapes on both sides. (Table – 2)


The dimensions of the occipital condyles in this study are significant and comparable with other studies of similar parameters. Atlanto occipital dislocation is a common cause of road accidents which are usually fatal, are undiagnosed and often not considered6. In such cases the dimensions of the occipital condyles and its shape will play an important role during a radiological assessment. A few research studies have documented the evidence of partition in the facets7. In the present study no condyles showed any such partition. A partitioned occipital condylar facet can be mistaken for fracture in an X-ray. Such morphological variations can produce clinical symptoms 7. In space occupying lesions of the posterior condylar fossa the preferred mode of approach is the dorsal approach through the foramen magnum 3 .This surgical approaches requires a thorough knowledge of occipital condyles and their adjoining structures.  Other surgical approaches like transcondylar and the transjugular approach require surgical removal of occipital condyles 8. If occipital condyles have to be surgically removed, the geometrical configuration of the atlanto occipital joint will be disturbed and result in instability giving rise to clinical symptoms. Resection of condyles requires an in depth idea of measurements on how much to resect or how much to be left.


The occipital condyles are integral part of neck and the base of skull. Conventional text book description of occipital condyles does not mention many of the variations which are described here. Knowledge of approximate measurements of occipital condyles and variations in shape will serve as a ready reference when surgical interventions are needed in the region.


The authors sincerely wish to thank the management, administrators and the Professor and Head, Department of Anatomy of Vinayaka Missions Kirupananda Variyar Medical College, Salem for their whole hearted support and permissions to utilize their resources and conduct this study. The authors acknowledge the great help received from the scholars whose articles cited and included in references of this manuscript. The authors are also grateful to authors/editors/publishers of all those articles, journals and books from where the literature for this article has been reviewed and discussed. Authors are grateful to IJCRR editorial board members and IJCRR team of reviewers who have helped to bring quality to this manuscript. 


  1. Susan Standring.  Gray’s Anatomy, 40th Edition. Anatomical basis of clinical practice, Churchill Livingstone, London. 2008; 40:415.
  2. Sait Naderi, Esin Korman et al. Morphometric analysis of human occipital condyle. Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery. 2005; 107: 191-199.
  3. Mehmet Asim Ozer, Servet Celik et al. Anatomical determination of a safe entry point for occipital condyle screw using three dimensional landmarks. Eur Spine J. 2011 September; 20(9): 1510 – 1517.
  4. Das S, Chaudhuri JD. Anatomico- radiological study of asymmetrical articular facets on occipital condyles and its clinical implications. Kathmandu University Medical Journal. 2008; 6(2): 217-219.
  5. Noble E.R, Smoker W.R.K. The Forgotten Condyle: The Appearance, Morphology, and Classification of Occipital Condyle Fractures. AJNR .1996; 17:507-513.
  6. Singh.S. Variation of the superior articular facets of atlas vertebrae. J Anat. 1965; 99 (Pt-3): 565 – 71.
  7. Al-Mefty O, Borba LA et al. The transcondylar approach to extradural non neoplastic lesions of the craniovertebral junction. J Neurosurg. 1996; 84(1):1-6.
  8. Wen HT, Rhoton AL Jr et al. Microsurgical anatomy of the transcondylar, supracondylar and paracondylar extensions of the far – lateral approach. J Neurosurg. 1997; 87(4): 555 – 85.

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Best Article Award

A Study by Jabbar Desai et al. entitled "Prevalence of Obstructive Airway Disease in Patients with Ischemic Heart Disease and Hypertension" is awarded Best Article for Vol 12 issue 17
A Study by Juna Byun et al. entitled "Study on Difference in Coronavirus-19 Related Anxiety between Face-to-face and Non-face-to-face Classes among University Students in South Korea" is awarded Best Article for Vol 12 issue 16
A Study by Sudha Ramachandra & Vinay Chavan entitled "Enhanced-Hybrid-Age Layered Population Structure (E-Hybrid-ALPS): A Genetic Algorithm with Adaptive Crossover for Molecular Docking Studies of Drug Discovery Process" is awarded Best article for Vol 12 issue 15
A Study by Varsha M. Shindhe et al. entitled "A Study on Effect of Smokeless Tobacco on Pulmonary Function Tests in Class IV Workers of USM-KLE (Universiti Sains Malaysia-Karnataka Lingayat Education Society) International Medical Programme, Belagavi" is awarded Best article of Vol 12 issue 14, July 2020
A study by Amruta Choudhary et al. entitled "Family Planning Knowledge, Attitude and Practice Among Women of Reproductive Age from Rural Area of Central India" is awarded Best Article for special issue "Modern Therapeutics Applications"
A study by Raunak Das entitled "Study of Cardiovascular Dysfunctions in Interstitial Lung Diseas epatients by Correlating the Levels of Serum NT PRO BNP and Microalbuminuria (Biomarkers of Cardiovascular Dysfunction) with Echocardiographic, Bronchoscopic and HighResolution Computed Tomography Findings of These ILD Patients" is awarded Best Article of Vol 12 issue 13 
A Study by Kannamani Ramasamy et al. entitled "COVID-19 Situation at Chennai City – Forecasting for the Better Pandemic Management" is awarded best article for  Vol 12 issue 12
A Study by Muhammet Lutfi SELCUK and Fatma COLAKOGLU entitled "Distinction of Gray and White Matter for Some Histological Staining Methods in New Zealand Rabbit's Brain" is awarded best article for  Vol 12 issue 11
A Study by Anamul Haq et al. entitled "Etiology of Abnormal Uterine Bleeding in Adolescents – Emphasis Upon Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome" is awarded best article for  Vol 12 issue 10
A Study by Arpita M. et al entitled "Estimation of Reference Interval of Serum Progesterone During Three Trimesters of Normal Pregnancy in a Tertiary Care Hospital of Kolkata" is awarded best article for  Vol 12 issue 09
A Study by Ilona Gracie De Souza & Pavan Kumar G. entitled "Effect of Releasing Myofascial Chain in Patients with Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome - A Randomized Clinical Trial" is awarded best article for  Vol 12 issue 08
A Study by Virendra Atam et. al. entitled "Clinical Profile and Short - Term Mortality Predictors in Acute Stroke with Emphasis on Stress Hyperglycemia and THRIVE Score : An Observational Study" is awarded best article for  Vol 12 issue 07
A Study by K. Krupashree et. al. entitled "Protective Effects of Picrorhizakurroa Against Fumonisin B1 Induced Hepatotoxicity in Mice" is awarded best article for issue Vol 10 issue 20
A study by Mithun K.P. et al "Larvicidal Activity of Crude Solanum Nigrum Leaf and Berries Extract Against Dengue Vector-Aedesaegypti" is awarded Best Article for Vol 10 issue 14 of IJCRR
A study by Asha Menon "Women in Child Care and Early Education: Truly Nontraditional Work" is awarded Best Article for Vol 10 issue 13
A study by Deep J. M. "Prevalence of Molar-Incisor Hypomineralization in 7-13 Years Old Children of Biratnagar, Nepal: A Cross Sectional Study" is awarded Best Article for Vol 10 issue 11 of IJCRR
A review by Chitra et al to analyse relation between Obesity and Type 2 diabetes is awarded 'Best Article' for Vol 10 issue 10 by IJCRR. 
A study by Karanpreet et al "Pregnancy Induced Hypertension: A Study on Its Multisystem Involvement" is given Best Paper Award for Vol 10 issue 09
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Awardees of COVID-19 Research

Woman Researcher Award

A Study by Neha Garg et al. entitled "Optimization of the Response to nCOVID-19 Pandemic in Pregnant Women – An Urgent Appeal in Indian Scenario" published in Vol 12 issue 09

A Study by Sana Parveen and Shraddha Jain entitled "Pathophysiologic Enigma of COVID-19 Pandemic with Clinical Correlates" published in Vol 12 issue 13

A Study by Rashmi Jain et al. entitled "Current Consensus Review Article on Drugs and Biologics against nCOVID-19 – A Systematic Review" published in Vol 12 issue 09

Emerging Researcher Award

A Study by Madhan Jeyaraman et al. entitled "Vitamin-D: An Immune Shield Against nCOVID-19" published in Vol 12 issue 09

Study by Dheeraj Kumar Chopra et al. entitled "Lipid-Based Solid Dispersions of Azilsartan Medoxomil with Improved Oral Bioavailability: In Vitro and In Vivo Evaluation" published in Vol 12 issue 19

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