Cervical Anatomy and Pathology - Degenerated Cervical Spine

Closeup of a degenerated lower cervical spine

Sagittal closeup section through the severely degenerated lower cervical spinal segment

Sagittal close–up section through the lateral recess of a severely degenerated lower cervical spinal segment. The patient had complained of sensory disturbances indicative of root compression at this level. Towards the center the cartilaginous endplate of the disc has fused, posteriorly the disc space is completely resorbed and bordered by amply vascularized subchondral endplate sclerosis that extends posteriorly to form endplate osteophytes or spondylophytes. These spondylophyes, commonly referred to as "spurs" are always spondylosis flanges or ridges that are connected by the hard remnant of the outermost annulus fibrosus, thus forming a "beak" that pointedly compresses the traversing root sleeve against the (unyielding) lamina of the vertebra below. Contrary to the lumbar spine, compression in degenerated cervical spines is caused almost entirely by bony structures. Note also that the root sheath contains three roots (the number of roots in the root sheath varies from two to five roots), inferiorly the sagittally flattened root sleeve contains a small amount of CSF. Due to the loss of disc height there also is a retrolisthesis of the vertebra above, this is reflected on the more posterior position of the lamina above and the superiorly receding ligamentum flavum.

Updated on: 11/29/18

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