JOURNAL ARTICLE

Dynamic changes in the dimensions of the lumbar spinal canal: an experimental study in vitro

N Schönström, S Lindahl, J Willén, T Hansson
Journal of Orthopaedic Research: Official Publication of the Orthopaedic Research Society 1989, 7 (1): 115-21
2908901
The variation in the dimensions of the lumbar spinal canal under both flexion-extension and axial compression-distraction was studied using computerized tomography (CT) scans in human cadaver lumbar spine specimens. In 3-mm-thick CT slices through the disk at L3-L4, the cross-sectional area of the spinal canal was reduced by around 40 mm2, corresponding to a 16% reduction of the initial area when the lumbar spines were moved both from flexion to extension and from distraction to compression. A corresponding reduction in the midsagittal diameter of the canal of 2 mm was found. During these motions, the ligamentum flavum did not appear to be a significant factor for the dynamic changes affecting the dimensions of the canal. This held true even after the disk had been excised in order to produce a total collapse of the disk space.

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