Disk fragment migration

Radiology. 1990 Jun;175(3):831-6. doi: 10.1148/radiology.175.3.2343133.


This report analyzes the most frequently observed migration paths of disk fragments in 47 patients who had extruded or sequestered disks. Observations are based principally on magnetic resonance (MR) images. When disk fragments moved in a superior (42%) or inferior (40%) direction from the donor disk, the displaced disk components were most frequently (94%) dislodged into the right or left half of the anterior epidural space (AES) and rarely straddled the midline. To explain this phenomenon, the authors investigated the anatomy of the AES by dissecting four cadaver specimens and reviewing 300 MR images of the spine. They conclude that the migrating path of a disk fragment is determined by the anatomy of the AES, a fairly well-defined space delimited posteriorly by the posterior longitudinal ligament and by membranes laterally attached to it. It consists of two compartments separated by a sagitally aligned septum. During migration, sequestered disk fragments usually stay in these compartments.

MeSH terms

  • Cervical Vertebrae / pathology
  • Epidural Space / pathology
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc / pathology*
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / diagnosis*
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / diagnostic imaging
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / pathology
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / pathology
  • Radiography
  • Spinal Canal / pathology