Microsurgical anatomy of the spinal cord in human fetuses

Elvan O., AKTEKIN M. , Kayan G.

SURGICAL AND RADIOLOGIC ANATOMY, vol.42, no.8, pp.951-960, 2020 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 42 Issue: 8
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s00276-020-02498-4
  • Page Numbers: pp.951-960


Purpose To determine the microsurgical features of the spinal cord and ventral and dorsal rootlets in fetal period. Methods Twelve formalin-fixed fetuses (six females and six males) with a mean gestational age of 27.0 +/- 2.04 weeks (range between 25 and 32 weeks) were dissected to evaluate morphological properties of the spinal cord and rootlets. Results Length and width of each spinal cord segment, number of dorsal and ventral rootlets, length of dorsal root entry and ventral root exit zones of each spinal nerve, spinal cord termination level, and the whole spinal cord length were determined in all fetuses. Contrary to previous reports, the number of ventral rootlets was always more than that of dorsal rootlets in all segments. No statistically significant gender difference was found for all parameters. Rootlet number and segment width in cervical region were larger than those of thoracic, while the lengths of dorsal root entry and ventral root exit zones in thoracic region were longer than those of cervical. In lumbar region, dorsal and ventral rootlet numbers were increasing again, while lengths of dorsal root entry and ventral root exit zones were decreasing. Number of dorsal and ventral rootlets of C5 and C6 segments was statistically higher than other cervical segments. The mean spinal cord length was found as 105.55 +/- 11.30 mm and there was a positive significant relationship with gestational age. Conus medullaris level was detected between L1 and L3 segments. Conclusion Detailed microsurgical data about the fetal spinal cord and the dorsal and ventral rootlets presented in this study provide significant information which may be essential during surgical interventions in early postnatal period and childhood targeting the spinal cord and spinal nerve roots.