G. A. Kraan, P. V. J. M. Hoogland, P. I. J. M. Wuisman

March 2009, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 490 - 498 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-009-0881-4

First Online: 23 January 2009

An anatomical study of the extraforaminal attachments of the thoracic spinal nerves was performed using human spinal columns. The objectives of the study are to identify and describe the existence of ligamentous structures at each thoracic level that attach spinal nerves to structures at the extraforaminal region. During the last 120 years, several mechanisms have been described to protect the spinal nerve against traction. All the described structures were located inside the spinal canal proximal to the intervertebral foramen. Ligaments with a comparable function just outside the intervertebral foramen are mentioned ephemerally. No studies are available about ligamentous attachments of thoracic spinal nerves to the spine. Five embalmed human thoracic spines (Th2–Th11) were dissected. Bilaterally, the extraforaminal region was dissected to describe and measure anatomical structures and their relationships with the thoracic spinal nerves. Histology was done at the sites of attachment of the ligaments to the nerves and along the ligaments. The thoracic spinal nerves are attached to the transverse process of the vertebrae cranial and caudal to the intervertebral foramen. The ligaments consist mainly of collagenous fibers. In conclusion, at the thoracic level, direct ligamentous connections exist between extraforaminal thoracic spinal nerves and nearby structures. They may serve as a protective mechanism against traction and compression of the nerves by positioning the nerve in the intervertebral foramen.

Read Full Article