Morphometric analysis of the roots and neural foramina of the lumbar vertebrae

Surg Neurol. 2006 Aug;66(2):148-51; discussion 151. doi: 10.1016/j.surneu.2006.02.041.


Background: There have been few anatomic studies on the foramina and roots of the lumbar region, and those available in human specimens are usually based on computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging methods.

Methods: Using the recent breakthroughs in microscopic anatomic dissections, the roots and vertebral foramina of the lumbar region were examined in 15 cadavers. Morphometric analysis of the roots and vertebral foramina of 80 lumbar vertebral objects was conducted.

Results: The transverse and sagittal diameters of the lumbar intervertebral foramina were measured at each vertebral level. The median diameter of the lumbar neural foramina was 8.8 +/- 1.7 mm for the transverse and 19.4 +/- 2.7 mm for the sagittal planes. The widest median diameter of roots was 3.9 mm in the L4 root, and the narrowest was 3.3 mm in the L1 root.

Conclusion: Quantitative measurements of the diameters of the neural foramina and roots of the lumbar region in anatomic dissection models may provide a deeper understanding about the pathologies of this region and influence the success of surgical interventions.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Weights and Measures
  • Cadaver
  • Dissection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / anatomy & histology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors
  • Spinal Canal / anatomy & histology*
  • Spinal Nerve Roots / anatomy & histology*