The morphology of the anterior and posterior internal vertebral venous plexus (IVVP) in human fetuses between 21-25 weeks of gestational age is described. The results are compared to the findings of a previous morphological study of the IVVP in the aged. The morphological pattern of the anterior IVVP in the fetus is very similar with the anterior IVVP in the aged human. In contrast, the posterior IVVP in the fetus lacks the prominent transverse bridging veins that are present in the aged lower thoracic and the lumbar posterior IVVP. The background of these morphological differences is unclear. Maybe the thoracolumbar part of the posterior IVVP is subject to "developmental delay," or the observed differences in the aged may result from functional and age-related factors that trigger this part of the vertebral venous system during (erect) life. The observed age related morphological differences of the posterior IVVP support the concept of the venous origin of the spontaneous spinal epidural hematoma (SSEH).
Copyright 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.