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Morphometric study of myelinated fibers in human cervical spinal cord white matter

Morphometric study of myelinated fibers in human cervical spinal cord white matter

Spine 21(9): 1010-1016

Study Design. Using human autopsy spinal cord specimens, morphologic measurements of myelinated nerve fibers were performed, focusing on the regions that include the main white matter conduction paths. The hemilateral spinal cord morphology was also measured, and its relation with the component myelinated nerve fibers determined. Objectives. To determine the relation between spinal cord transverse area in the normal lower cervical spine, the site most vulnerable to chronic compressive myelopathy, and myelinated nerve fibers. Summary of Background Data. Considerable inter-individual variation normally is observed in the morphology of the spinal cord transverse area. The influence of this variation on the composition of the white matter myelinated nerve fibers is obscure. Methods. The C7 segments from seven cadavers were resected, and from magnified photographs of paraffin-embedded specimens, the hemilateral spinal cord area and funicular area were measured. Nerve fiber morphology was measured using Epon-embedded specimens. Three regions that included the main conduction paths were sampled, and magnified photographs obtained. The nerve fiber transverse morphology was measured using the ellipse conversion method, and the myelinated nerve density and fiber area were determined. Results. marked inter-individual variations were found in both the hemilateral spinal cord transverse area and funicular area. A positive correlation was noted between the two, with the spinal cord transverse area large in the cases with a large funicular area. For fiber density and area, histograms were constructed that showed characteristic distribution patterns in each region. By dividing each region into two components (i.e., small- and large-diameter fibers), it was found that the interindividual variation in large-diameter fiber density was small, clarifying that the absolute number of large-diameter fibers compared to fiber density is more strongly dependent on the funicular area. Conclusions. The absolute number of large-diameter myelinated fibers is smaller in cross-sections of thin as compared to those of thick spinal cord. When elucidating the pathophysiology of compressive myelopathy, it is necessary to study not only the circumstances surrounding the spinal cord, but this kind of factor intrinsic to the spinal cord itself.

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Accession: 009055405

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PMID: 8724083

DOI: 10.1097/00007632-199605010-00002

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