European Journal of Anatomy

Official Journal of The Spanish Society of Anatomy
Cover Volume 21 - Number 4
Eur J Anat, 21 (4): 315-317 (2017)

Description of “Ponticular Artery” at the atlas: an anatomical case report with potential clinical relevance

Manuel Dreu1, Claudia Dolcet1, Thomas Pixner1, Lukas Bruckmann2, Patrick Sadoghi3, Gloria M. Hohenberger3, Angelika M. Schwarz4, Georg C. Feigl1

1Institute of Anatomy, Medical University of Graz, Austria, 2Department of Neurosurgery, Medical University of Graz, Austria, 3Department of Orthopedics and Trauma Surgery, Medical University of Graz, Austria, 4Trauma Hospital Graz, Austria

ABSTRACT The atlas plays an important role as a characteristic connective bony element between the cervical spine and the occiput. Its details and variations are of special interest to neurosurgeons — e.g., in a far lateral transcondylar approach. We investigated 121 atlases and their variations. During our investigations, we periodically found atlases with a complete arcuate foramen (canal for vertebral artery) and an additional foramen in the bony roof of a complete arcuate foramen. Different structures passing through this additional foramen are described in the literature, but no artery. We found a macroscopically clear verified artery in a 67-year-old male cadaver passing through the foramen in the bony roof of a complete arcuate foramen. Such an artery is of clinical importance to neurosurgeons or musculoskeletal surgeons, but unmentioned in literature until now. A potential name for this artery could be “ponticular artery”. The discovered artery is most likely a branch to the neck muscles. The knowledge of a possible existence of such an artery is necessary to prevent complications during surgical procedures in the region of the upper cervical spine. Furthermore, the special course of this artery could be the reason for atrophy and imbalance of deep cervical muscles and consequently headaches.

Keywords: Ponticle – Vertebral artery – Canal of vertebral artery – Cranial base – Atlas

European Journal of anatomy
ISSN 2340-311X (Online)