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Articular Capsule of Lateral Atlantoaxial Joint (Left)
Connective Tissue

Articular Capsule of Lateral Atlantoaxial Joint (Left)

Capsula articularis articulationis atlantoaxialis lateralis

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Structure

The lateral atlantoaxial joint is surrounded by a joint capsule and is composed of a fibrous layer and synovial membrane. The capsule is composed of tough interwoven fibers and tends to be looser and slacker to facilitate the variety of movements associated with this joint.

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Anatomical Relations

The fibrous layer of the lateral atlantoaxial joint attaches along the margins of the articular surfaces, thus, enveloping them. These are the zygapophyseal joints located between the first and second cervical vertebrae.

The synovial membrane forms the inner portion of the articular capsule and is overlaid by the outer fibrous layer of the capsule. It is in contact with the margins of articular cartilages that are in close proximity to the fibrous layer insertion.

Function

The fibrous layer adds and maintains the stability of the lateral atlantoaxial joint. It restricts excessive movements of the articulating surfaces by tightening as they move.

The synovial membrane allows for the production and secretion of synovial fluid which helps to lubricate joints and prevent friction during movement. It also provides nutrition to the joint. The membrane also locks in this fluid and prevents leakage out of the capsule.

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Atlantoaxial Joint

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The atlantoaxial joint may be the only remaining mobile segment and the fulcrum of all craniocervical mobility of the cervical spine in patients with autofusion and a “bamboo” spine due to advanced ankylosing spondylitis.

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