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Surg Radiol Anat. 2011 Dec;33(10):855-62. doi: 10.1007/s00276-010-0757-7. Epub 2011 Jan 4.

3D reconstruction of the crural and thoracolumbar fasciae.

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  • 1Department of Information Engineering, University of Padova, Via Gradenigo 6/b, 35131, Padua, Italy.



To create computerized three-dimensional models of the crural fascia and of the superficial layer of the thoracolumbar fascia.


Serial sections of these two fasciae, stained with Azan-Mallory, van Gieson and anti-S100 antibody stains, were recorded. The resulting images were merged (Image Zone 5.0 software) and aligned (MatLab Image Processing Toolkit). Color thresholding was applied to identify the structures of interest. 3D models were obtained with Tcl/Tk scripts and Paraview 3.2.1 software. From these models, the morphometric features of these fasciae were evaluated with ImageJ.


In the crural fascia, collagen fibers represent less than 20% of the total volume, arranged in three distinct sub-layers (mean thickness, 115 μm), separated by a layer of loose connective tissue (mean thickness, 43 μm). Inside a single sub-layer, all the fibers are parallel, whereas the angle between the fibers of adjacent layers is about 78°. Elastic fibers are less than 1%. Nervous fibers are mostly concentrated in the middle layer. The superficial layer of the thoracolumbar fascia is also formed of three thinner sub-layers, but only the superficial one is similar to the crural fascia sub-layers, the intermediate one is similar to a flat tendon, and the deep one is formed of loose connective tissue. Only the superficial sub-layer has rich innervation and a few elastic fibers.


Computerized three-dimensional models provide a detailed representation of the fascial structure, for better understanding of the interactions among the different components. This is a fundamental step in understanding the mechanical behavior of the fasciae and their role in pathology.

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