Thoracolumbar Spine Anatomy and Pathology - Partial Collapse of the L1 Vertebra

Partial collapse of the L1 vertebra due to a superior endplate failure
Partial collapse of the L1 vertebra due to a superior endplate failure in the same spine specimen. The inferior part of the vertebra appears macroscopically normal. At the level of the basivertebral vein outlet a focal osteolytic metastasis has weakened the vertebra and caused a compression– fracture type of failure of the superior endplate that detaches a triangular upper posterior bony fragment (similar to triangular fragments in burst fractures) that is rotated posteriorly into the vertebral canal. The stroma of the nucleus pulposus tracks into the weakened vertebra giving the impression of a volcanic eruption. This herniation of nucleus into the vertebrae through endplate defects is a typical feature of osteolytic vertebrae. The fragment is attached to the entire posterior annulus which serves as a soft tissue hinge together with the posterior longitudinal ligament. The disc is degenerated in this specimen.


©2000 Wolfgang Rauschning, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Clinical Anatomy
Academic University Hospital
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
Uppsala, Sweden
Reproduction without permission is prohibited

Updated on: 11/02/16

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