Overlooked Metastatic Lesions of the Occipital Condyle: A Missed Case Treasure Trove

Laurie A. Loevner, David M. Yousem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Radiologic images obtained in nine patients with known primary cancer and occipital or head and neck pain were retrospectively reviewed after having been initially interpreted as normal. Imaging studies included head computed tomography (CT) in five cases, brain magnetic resonance (MR) imaging in six cases, cervical spine CT and MR imaging in five cases, radiography in two cases, and scintigraphy in two cases. This reevaluation demonstrated lesions of the occipital condyles in all patients. Seven patients had unilateral occipital condyle masses, and two patients had bilateral condyle lesions. Lesions were found to either involve only the occipital condyle (n = 4), extend to the adjacent occipital bone (n = 3), or extend to the ipsilateral clivus (n = 2). Misinterpretation of radiologic examinations resulted in an average delay in diagnosis of 10 weeks from the onset of symptoms to definitive therapy (irradiation). It is important to evaluate the occipital condyles in all patients with occipital pain, especially those with cancer. Neoplastic disease involving the occipital condyles is not common; however, it is frequently missed at imaging. Careful review of unenhanced sagittal and axial T1-weighted MR images and of the inferior sections from axial head CT studies will make it possible to avoid this potential pitfall.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1111-1121
Number of pages11
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Skull, secondary neoplasms, 127.33

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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