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Spine & Disc Disease

Anatomy

The spine consists of small irregular bones called vertebrae. The vertebrae line up and together form the vertebral column.

A hole in the center of each vertebrae forms a tunnel called the vertebral canal. The spinal cord and spinal roots are located within the vertebral canal.

Discs made of fibrocartilage tissue are located between adjacent vertebrae.

Picture 1. Anatomy of the vertebral column.

VertebralColumn

Picture 2. Spinal cord, nerve roots and blood vessels in the vertebral canal.

vessels

SPINAL CORD FUNCTION

The spinal cord carries activity from the brain to the rest of the body. Injuries to the spinal cord are associated with weakness or paralysis.

DISC DISEASE

Intervertebral discs may deteriorate with resultant herniation. Intervertebral discs material may herniate upward and come to rest against the spinal cord causing damage and pain.

Degenerative disc disease is actually not a disease but a phrase used to describe the aging changes in spinal discs. Spinal discs are soft, compressible discs that separate the vertebrae that compose the spine. These discs act like shock absorbers for the spine and allow the back to bend and twist.

Diagnosis of intervertebral disc herniation

Myelogram, MRI of the spine and CT-Scan are valuable diagnostic tools.

Myelogram Informational Page

MRI Informational Page

Computed Tomography (CT) Scan Informational Page

Surgical Treatment of intervertebral disc herniation

The bone over the spinal cord is removed (laminectomy or hemilaminectomy).

Herniated disc material is removed from the vertebral canal.

Picture 3. View of the vertebrae, spinal cord and herniated disc material at hemilaminectomy.

Hem