To assess the value and limitation of cervical traction in the evaluation of the reducibility of atlantoaxial dislocation (AAD) and basilar invagination (BI) using the intraoperative O-arm. A total of 22 patients with hyperextensive, irreducible AAD were included. The cervical traction test under general anesthesia was performed, and the degree of reduction was evaluated using the O-arm before the operation started. The traction effects both vertically and horizontally were evaluated. All cases then underwent modified direct posterior reduction and fixation. Clinical outcomes were evaluated using the Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) scale. Radiologic measurements included the anterior atlantodental interval, the distance of odontoid tip above Chamberlain line, and the clivus-canal angle. Magnetic resonance imaging signal changes, size of syringomyelia, and the space ventral to medulla also were used to evaluate the postoperative reduction result. After the cervical traction test, 7 patients achieved incomplete reduction, 5 achieved only vertical reduction, 6 achieved only horizontal reduction, and 4 achieved complete reduction in both horizontal and vertical orientations as assessed by the O-arm. All patients underwent a direct reduction technique. The mean JOA score increased from 11.1 to 14.5. Complete reduction of AAD and BI were achieved in 19 patients (86.4%), with partial reduction achieved in 3 (13.6%). Sufficient cerebrospinal fluid space anterior to the medulla with improved JOA score was achieved in the 3 partially reduced patients. With the innovations of direct posterior reduction techniques, cervical traction under anesthesia may not sufficiently predict the reducibility of BI and AAD. Cervical traction still plays an important role during the direct posterior reduction procedure. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.