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Occipital condyle

Recommended video: Posterior and lateral views of the skull [26:24]
Structures seen on the posterior and lateral views of the skull.

The occipital condyles form part of the occipital bone in the cranium. They are kidney-shaped prominences that emerge from the underside of the occipital bone. 

The anterior extremities of the occipital condyles are directed forwards and medially. Their anterior parts are closer together than their posterior counterparts that encroach on the basilar part of the bone. The posterior extremities of the condyles extend back to the middle level of the foramen magnum.
The articular surfaces of the condyles slope downward and laterally. Near the base of each condyle, there is a short tunnel-like canal called the hypoglossal canal.

These condyles importantly articulate with the first cervical vertebrae that is also known as the atlas. This forms the atlanto-occipital jointThe capsules of the atlanto-occipital joints attach to the margins of the condyles. These capsules  aid the stability of the joint. On the medial side of each condyle, there is a rough impression or tubercle for the attachment of alar ligament

These condyles can fracture, either in isolation  or as part of a more extensive basilar skull fracture. When the fracture occurs independently, it is categorized as a craniocervical injury. The symptoms of this fracture are similar to other craniocervical injuries. These patients present with high cervical pain, limited neck movement, abnormal head/neck position, prevertebral swelling, and potential deficits in cranial nerves IX, X, XI, and XII. The cranial nerve deficits are particularly characteristic due to the fracture's proximity to the jugular foramen and hypoglossal canal.

Terminology:  English: Occipital condyle 
Latin: Condylus occipitalis
Location: Underside of the occipital bone 
Function: Articulate with the first cervical vertebra to form the atlanto-occipital joint. 

Learn more about the occipital bones and other bones of the skull in this study unit: 

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