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Clin Anat. 2012 Mar;25(2):218-23. doi: 10.1002/ca.21213. Epub 2011 Jun 10.

Nerve root to lumbar disc relationships at the intervertebral foramen from a surgical viewpoint: An anatomical study.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Yuzuncu Yıl University, Faculty of Medicine, Van, Turkey.


The objective of this study was to analyze relationship of the intervertebral disc to the nerve root in the intervertebral foramen. Fourteen formalin-fixed cadavers were studied and measurements were performed. At the medial line of the neural foramen, the disc-root distance gradually increased from L1-L2 to L5-S1. The shortest distance between the disc to nerve root was L1-L2 (mean, 8.2 mm) and the greatest distance was found at L3-L4 (mean, 10.5 mm). In the mid-foramen, the disc-root distance decreased from L1-2 to L5-S1. The shortest distance from the disc to nerve root was found at L5-S1 (mean, 0.4 mm); and the greatest distance, at L1-L2 (mean, 3.8 mm). For the lateral line, the distance between an intersection point between the medial edge of the nerve root and the superior edge of the disc and lateral line of the foramen consistently increased from L1-L2 to L5-S1. The shortest distance from nerve root to the lateral border of the foramen, at the point where the nerve root crosses disc was at level L1-L2 (mean, 2.6 mm), the greatest distance, L5-S1 (mean, 8.8 mm). The width of the foramina progressively increased in a craniocaudal direction (mean, 8.3-17.8 mm from L1-2 to L5-S1, respectively). The mean height of the foramina was more or less the same for disc levels (range, 19.3-21.5). The results showed that nerve roots at lower levels traveled closer to the midline of the foramen. This morphometric information may be helpful in minimizing the incidence of injury to the lumbar nerve root during foraminal and extraforaminal approaches.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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