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Spinal cord: Topographical and functional anatomy

Antoine Micheau - MD, Denis Hoa - MD

Published on Wednesday 09 September 2009

SECTION: Anatomy of the spine and the spinal cord

Images and anatomical references

This atlas of human anatomy deals with the spinal cord through 18 anatomical diagrams comprising 270 anatomical structures including captions.

 

It is designed to be of particular interest to physiotherapists, osteopaths, rheumatologists, neurosurgeons, orthopaedic surgeons and general practitioners, especially for the study and understanding of medullary diseases.

 

Illustrations of the anatomy of the spinal cord

These original illustrations were produced from medical imaging data reconstructed in 3D and from histological and anatomo-pathological sections of the spinal cord.

 

All these original anatomical diagrams were produced by Dr. Antoine Micheau.

 

Anatomical structures of the spinal cord captioned

270 anatomical structures of the spinal cord were captioned, subdivided into different chapters:

  • The first image shows the different segments of the spinal cord (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral and coccygeal segments), the emergence of spinal nerves (cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral nerves and coccyx at the level of the cauda equina and filum terminale) and the sectional aspect of the spinal cord with changes in diameter at the cervical and lumbosacral bulges.

 

Anatomy - Spinal cord : Cervical enlargement,  Lumbosacral enlargement,  Medullary cone,  Spinal part of filum terminale, Cauda equina, Spinal nerves

Anatomy - Spinal cord : Illustrations: A. Micheau - MD

 

  • The second illustration of the spinal cord schematised in 3-dimensions the white matter cords, the grey columns and the horns of the spinal cord.

 

Funiculi of spinal cord - Anatomy - Illustrations: A. Micheau - MD : Grey columns, Central canal, Anterior median fissure; Ventral median fissure, Posterior horn; Dorsal horn, White substance

Funiculi of spinal cord : Drawings - E-anatomy - Imaios

 

  • Next, the user will find anatomical sections of the spinal cord at different levels: cervical spinal cord (C2, C5), thoracic spinal cord (T10), lumbar spinal cord (L3) and sacral spinal cord (S3).

 

Anatomy : Spinal cord, Funiculi of spinal cord, Tectospinal tract, Anterior funiculus; Ventral funiculus, Cuneate fasciculus, Gracile fasciculus

Human anatomy : Spinal cord - Illustrations: A. Micheau - MD

 

  • A diagram summarises the composition of white matter cords of the spinal cord with the different tracts (fasciculus gracilis (Goll's), wedge-shaped beam (Burdach's), corticospinal tract, spinocerebellar tract...).
  • The anatomy of the grey matter of the spinal cord is summarised in a diagram with the various grey matter nuclei (note that this representation is virtual because some nuclei are only present at some levels between them but are displayed on a single cross-sectional diagram).
  • The 10 spinal laminae of the spinal cord are shown in a second diagram dedicated to the grey matter of the spinal cord.
  • Next, two axial sections of the spinal cord and adjacent structures allow the organisation of a spinal nerve to be displayed with its various branches (sensitive posterior root, anterior motor root, meningeal branch, muscular branches, intercostal nerves...) and represent the different spaces and meninges covering the spinal cord (epidural space, subdural space, subarachnoid space, pia mater, spinal dura, arachnoid spinal...)
  • The arterial supply of the spinal cord is shown three different illustrations: an anterolateral view of the thoracic spine showing the emergence of the anterior spinal artery from the root and intercostal arteries), an axial section showing the branches of costal arteries destined for spinal cord and muscle and finally an overview of the arterial vascularisation to understand the substitution networks between the anterior and posterior spinal arteries as well as the role of the anterior segmental medullary artery (Adamkiewicz' artery).

 

Spinal cord - Arteries - Anatomy : Anterior spinal artery, Anterior segmental medullary artery (Adamkiewicz), Posterior intercostal arteries, Posterior spinal artery

Arteries - Spinal cord : Illustrations

 

  • The venous vasculature is shown on an anatomical section at the thoracic level (anterior and posterior spinal veins, basivertebral veins, vertebral venous plexus...)

 

Veins of spinal cord - Anatomy atlas - Imaios - E-anatomy : Anterior spinal veins, Spinal dura mater, Epidural space, Spinal pia mater, Azygos vein, Spinal vein; Spinal branch

Anatomy - Diagram : Spinal cord - Veins

 

  •  The dermatomes of various cervical spinal nerves, thoracic, lumbar and sacral are diagrammed in anterior and posterior views of the human body.

 

Dermatomes - Spinal nerves : C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C6 C7 C8 Co L1 L2 L3 L4 L5 S1 S2 S3 S4 S5 T1 T10 T11 T12 T2 T3 T4 T5 T6 T7 T8 T9

Human anatomy - Dermatomes - Spinal nerves

 

  • The final diagram represents a reflex arc.

 

Reflex arc : Spinal nerve, Posterior root; Sensory root; Dorsal root, Anterior root; Motor root; Ventral root, Effector

Reflex arc - Medical illustrations

 

Language and terminology for the study of the anatomy of the spinal cord

We have used the Terminologia Anatomica to caption all the anatomical structures, with translations into English, French, Japanese and Spanish.


Anatomical parts

  • Anatomical structures - Anatomical parts
  • Anterior column; Ventral column - Columna anterior
  • Anterior corticospinal tract; Ventral corticospinal tract - Tractus corticospinalis anterior
  • Anterior external vertebral venous plexus - Plexus venosus vertebralis externus anterior
  • Anterior fasciculus proprius; Ventral fasciculus proprius - Fasciculus proprius anterior
  • Anterior funiculus; Ventral funiculus - Funiculus anterior
  • Anterior grey commissure; Ventral grey commissure - Commissura grisea anterior
  • Anterior horn; Ventral horn - Cornu anterius
  • Anterior internal vertebral venous plexus - Plexus venosus vertebralis internus anterior
  • Anterior median fissure; Ventral median fissure - Fissura mediana anterior
  • Anterior radicular artery - Arteria radicularis anterior
  • Anterior ramus - Ramus anterior
  • Anterior raphespinal tract; Ventral raphespinal tract - Tractus raphespinalis anterior
  • Anterior root; Motor root; Ventral root - Radix anterior; Radix motoria
  • Anterior segmental medullary artery (Adamkiewicz) - Arteria medullaris segmentalis
  • Anterior spinal artery - Arteria spinalis anterior
  • Anterior spinal veins - Venae spinales anteriores
  • Anterior spinocerebellar tract; Ventral spinocerebellar tract - Tractus spinocerebellaris anterior
  • Anterior spinothalamic tract; Ventral spinothalamic tract - Tractus spinothalamicus anterior
  • Anterior white commissure; Ventral white commissure - Commissura alba anterior
  • Antero-lateral view - Antero-lateral view
  • Anterobasal segmentary artery - Anterobasal segmentary artery nucleus; Ventromedial nucleus - Nucleus anteromedialis
  • Anterolateral nucleus; Ventrolateral nucleus - Nucleus anterolateralis
  • Anterolateral sulcus; Ventrolateral sulcus - Sulcus anterolateralis
  • Aorta - Aorta
  • Apex - Apex
  • Arteries - Arteriae
  • Azygos vein - Vena azygos
  • Base - Basis
  • Basivertebral veins - Venae basivertebrales
  • C2 - C2
  • C3 - C3 - C3 - C3
  • C4 - C4 - C4 - C4
  • C5 - C5 - C5 - C5
  • C6 - C6
  • C7 - C7
  • C8 - C8
  • Cauda equina - Cauda equina
  • Central canal - Canalis centralis
  • Central cord structures - Structurae centrales medullae spinalis
  • Central gelatinous substance - Substantia gelatinosa centralis
  • Central intermediate substance - Substantia intermedia centralis
  • Central nucleus - Nucleus centralis
  • Cerebrospinal fluid - Liquor cerebrospinalis
  • Cervical enlargement - Intumescentia cervicalis
  • Cervical nerves (C1-C8) - Nervi cervicales (C1-C8)
  • Cervical part; Cervical segments [1-8] - Pars cervicalis; Segmenta cervicalia [1-8]
  • Coccygeal part; Coccygeal segments [1-3] - Pars coccygea; Segmenta coccygea [1-3]
  • Cross section - Cross section
  • Cuneate fasciculus - Fasciculus cuneatus
  • Denticulate ligament - Ligamentum denticulatum
  • Dermatomes - Dermatomes
  • Diagram - Diagram
  • Dorsal branch - Ramus dorsalis
  • Dorsal vein; Dorsal branch - Vena dorsalis; Ramus dorsalis
  • Epidural space - Spatium epidurale; Spatium peridurale
  • External features - Morphologia externa
  • Funiculi of spinal cord - Funiculi medullae spinalis
  • Gelatinous substance; Spinal lamina II - Substantia gelatinosa; Lamina spinalis II
  • Gracile fasciculus - Fasciculus gracilis
  • Grey columns - Columnae griseae
  • Grey matter; Grey substance - Substantia grisea
  • Grey ramus communicans - Ramus communicans griseus
  • Grey substance - Substantia grisea
  • Head - Caput
  • Hemiazygos vein; Inferior hemiazygos vein - Vena hemiazygos
  • Hide all - Hide all
  • I - I
  • II - II
  • III - III
  • IV - IV
  • IX - IX
  • Iliolumbar artery - Arteria iliolumbalis
  • Illustrations - Illustrations
  • Illustrations - Illustrations: A. Micheau - MD - Illustrations - Illustrations: A. Micheau - MD
  • Intercostal nerves; Anterior rami; Ventral rami - Nervi intercostales; Rami anteriores; Rami ventrales
  • Interfascicular fasciculus - Fasciculus interfascicularis; Fasciculus semilunaris
  • Intermediate cervical septum - Septum cervicale intermedium
  • Intermediate column; Intermediate zone - Columna intermedia
  • Intermediolateral nucleus - Nucleus intermediolateralis
  • Intermediomedial nucleus - Nucleus intermediomedialis
  • Internal features - Morphologia interna
  • Internal iliac artery - Arteria iliaca interna
  • Interstitiospinal tract - Tractus interstitiospinalis
  • Intervertebral vein - Vena intervertebralis
  • L1 - L1 - L1 - L1
  • L2 - L2 - L2 - L2
  • L3 - L3 - L3 - L3
  • L4 - L4 - L4 - L4
  • L5 - L5 - L5 - L5
  • Lateral branch - Ramus lateralis
  • Lateral corticospinal tract - Tractus corticospinalis lateralis
  • Lateral cutaneous branch - Ramus cutaneus lateralis
  • Lateral fasciculus proprius - Fasciculus proprius lateralis
  • Lateral funiculus - Funiculus lateralis
  • Lateral horn - Cornu laterale
  • Lateral intermediate substance - Substantia intermedia lateralis
  • Lateral sacral arteries - Arteriae sacrales laterales
  • Lateral spinothalamic tract - Tractus spinothalamicus lateralis
  • Lateral vestibulospinal tract - Tractus vestibulospinalis lateralis
  • Lumbar arteries - Arteriae lumbales
  • Lumbar nerves (L1 - L1-L5 - L5) - Nervi lumbales (L1 - L1-L5 - L5)
  • Lumbar part; Lumbar segments [1-5] - Pars lumbalis; Segmenta lumbalia [1-5]
  • Lumbosacral enlargement - Intumescentia lumbosacralis
  • Marginal nucleus; Spinal lamina I - Nucleus marginalis; Lamina spinalis I
  • Medial branch - Ramus medialis
  • Medial cutaneous branch - Ramus cutaneus medialis
  • Medial vestibulospinal tract - Tractus vestibulospinalis medialis
  • Medullary cone - Conus medullaris
  • Meningeal branch; Recurrent branch - Ramus meningeus; Ramus recurrens
  • Meninges - Meninges
  • Neck - Cervix
  • Nucleus of accessory nerve - Nucleus nervi accessorii
  • Nucleus of phrenic nerve; Phrenic nucleus - Nucleus nervi phrenici
  • Nucleus of pudendal nerve - Nucleus nervi pudendi
  • Nucleus proprius; Spinal laminae III and IV - Nucleus proprius; Laminae spinales III et IV
  • Pontoreticulospinal tract; Medial reticulospinal tract - Tractus pontoreticulospinalis
  • Postcentral branch - Ramus postcentralis
  • Posterior column; Dorsal column - Columna posterior
  • Posterior external vertebral venous plexus - Plexus venosus vertebralis externus posterior
  • Posterior fasciculus proprius; Dorsal fasciculus proprius - Fasciculus proprius posterior
  • Posterior funiculus; Dorsal funiculus - Funiculus posterior
  • Posterior grey commissure; Dorsal grey commissure - Commissura grisea posterior
  • Posterior horn; Dorsal horn - Cornu posterius
  • Posterior intercostal arteries - Arteriae intercostales posteriores
  • Posterior intercostal veins - Venae intercostales posteriores
  • Posterior intermediate sulcus; Dorsal intermediate sulcus - Sulcus intermedius posterior
  • Posterior internal vertebral venous plexus - Plexus venosus vertebralis internus posterior
  • Posterior median septum; Dorsal median septum - Septum medianum posterius
  • Posterior median sulcus; Dorsal median sulcus - Sulcus medianus posterior
  • Posterior radicular artery - Arteria radicularis posterior
  • Posterior ramus - Ramus posterior
  • Posterior root; Sensory root; Dorsal root - Radix posterior; Radix sensoria
  • Posterior spinal artery - Arteria spinalis posterior
  • Posterior spinal veins - Venae spinales posteriores
  • Posterior spinocerebellar tract; Dorsal spinocerebellar tract - Tractus spinocerebellaris posterior
  • Posterior thoracic nucleus; Dorsal thoracic nucleus - Nucleus thoracicus posterior; Nucleus dorsalis
  • Posterolateral nucleus; Dorsolateral nucleus - Nucleus posterolateralis
  • Posterolateral sulcus; Dorsolateral sulcus - Sulcus posterolateralis
  • Posterolateral tract; Dorsolateral tract - Tractus posterolateralis
  • Posteromedial nucleus; Dorsomedial nucleus - Nucleus posteromedialis
  • Prelaminar branch - Ramus prelaminaris
  • Radicular branches - Rami radiculares
  • Reflex arc - Reflex arc
  • Retroposterior lateral nucleus; Retrodorsal lateral nucleus - Nucleus retroposterolateralis
  • Rootlets - Fila radicularia
  • Rubrospinal tract - Tractus rubrospinalis
  • S1 - S1
  • S2 - S2
  • S3 - S3
  • S4 - S4
  • S5 - S5
  • Sacral nerves and coccygeal nerve (S1-S5, C0) - Nervi sacrales et nervus coccygeus (S1-S5, C0)
  • Sacral parasympathetic nuclei - Nuclei parasympathici sacrales
  • Sacral part; Sacral segments [1-5] - Pars sacralis; Segmenta sacralia [1-5]
  • Secondary visceral grey substance - Substantia visceralis secundaria
  • Segmental medullary artery - Arteria medullaris segmentalis
  • Septomarginal fasciculus - Fasciculus septomarginalis
  • Show all - Show all
  • Spinal arachnoid mater - Arachnoidea mater spinalis
  • Spinal area X; Spinal lamina X - Area spinalis X; Lamina spinalis X
  • Spinal branch - Ramus spinalis
  • Spinal branches - Rami spinales
  • Spinal cord - Medulla spinalis
  • Spinal dura mater - Dura mater spinalis
  • Spinal ganglion; Dorsal root ganglion - Ganglion sensorium nervi spinalis
  • Spinal lamina V - Lamina spinalis V
  • Spinal lamina VI - Lamina spinalis VI
  • Spinal lamina VII - Lamina spinalis VII
  • Spinal laminae - Laminae spinales
  • Spinal laminae VII-IX - Laminae spinales VII-IX
  • Spinal nerve - Nervus spinalis
  • Spinal pia mater - Pia mater spinalis
  • Spinal reticular formation - Formatio reticularis spinalis
  • Spinal vein; Spinal branch - Vena spinalis; Ramus spinalis
  • Spinoolivary tract - Tractus spinoolivaris
  • Spinoreticular tract - Tractus spinoreticularis
  • Spinotectal tract - Tractus spinotectalis
  • Subarachnoid space; Leptomeningeal space - Spatium subarachnoideum; Spatium leptomeningeum
  • Subclavian artery - Arteria subclavia
  • Subcostal vein - Vena subcostalis
  • Subdural space - Spatium subdurale
  • Sulcomarginal fasciculus - Fasciculus sulcomarginalis
  • Sympathetic trunk - Truncus sympathicus
  • T1 - T1 - T1 - T1
  • T1 - T10 - T1 - T10 - T1 - T10 - T1 - T10
  • T1 - T11 - T1 - T11 - T1 - T11 - T1 - T11
  • T1 - T12 - T1 - T12 - T1 - T12 - T1 - T12
  • T2 - T2 - T2 - T2
  • T3 - T3 - T3 - T3
  • T4 - T4 - T4 - T4
  • T5 - T5 - T5 - T5
  • T6 - T6 - T6 - T6
  • T7 - T7 - T7 - T7
  • T8 - T8 - T8 - T8
  • T9 - T9 - T9 - T9
  • Tectospinal tract - Tractus tectospinalis
  • Terminal filum - Filum terminale
  • Thoracic aorta - Pars thoracica aortae; Aorta thoracica
  • Thoracic nerves [T1 - T1-T1 - T12 - T1 - T12] - Nervi thoracici [T1 - T1-T1 - T12 - T1 - T12]
  • Thoracic part; Thoracic segments [1-12] - Pars thoracica; Segmenta thoracica [1-12]
  • Trunk - Trunk of spinal nerve - Truncus nervi spinalis
  • V - V
  • VI - VI
  • VII - VII
  • VIII - VIII
  • Veins - Vena
  • Veins of spinal cord - Venae medullae spinalis
  • Vertebral artery - Arteria vertebralis
  • White ramus communicans - Ramus communicans albus
  • White substance - Substantia alba
  • X - X

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