• accessory atlantoaxial ligament;
  • alar;
  • anatomy;
  • apical;
  • tectorial membrane;
  • transverse ligament

Our objectives were to establish a magnetic resonance (MR) protocol for the examination of, and then describe, the normal ligaments and the supporting structures of the occipitoatlantoaxial region. This was done in 10 cadaver dogs. In addition, MR images of three patients with cervical pain localized to the occipitoatlantoaxial region are included to provide examples of ligamentous abnormalities. All ligaments were hypointense in all pulse sequences. The apical, dorsal atlantoaxial, and dorsal longitudinal vertebral ligaments were seen best in the sagittal T1W and PD-weighted images. The transverse ligament was best visualized in the transverse plane in all pulse sequences and appeared to be confluent with the dorsal longitudinal vertebral ligament dorsal to the dens in the sagittal plane. A 20° dorsal plane reconstructed image in 0.6-mm slice thickness was necessary to visualize the alar ligaments, which were visible in 9/10 dogs. The dorsal longitudinal vertebral ligament appeared continuous with the apical ligament and tectorial membrane. Abnormalities in clinically affected dogs included thickening of the alar ligaments, absence of transverse ligament and elongation, and irregularity of the apical ligament.