Venous drainage of the spine and spinal cord: a comprehensive review of its history, embryology, anatomy, physiology, and pathology

Clin Anat. 2015 Jan;28(1):75-87. doi: 10.1002/ca.22354. Epub 2014 Feb 22.


Venous drainage of the spine and spinal cord is accomplished through a complex network of venous structures compartmentalized to intrinsic, extrinsic, and extradural systems. As the literature on this topic is scarce, the following review was performed to summarize the available literature into a single coherent format. The medical literature on the spinal venous system was reviewed using online sources as well as historical documents that were not available online in regard to history, embryology, anatomy, and physiology with a particular emphasis on the pathology affecting this system. The spinal venous system is complex and variable. Proper understanding of all aspects is critical for the management of the pathology that results from its failure.

Keywords: spinal cord; spine; venous.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arteriovenous Fistula / diagnostic imaging*
  • Arteriovenous Fistula / physiopathology
  • Arteriovenous Malformations / diagnostic imaging*
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Infections / complications
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Radiography
  • Spinal Cord / blood supply*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / complications
  • Spinal Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Spine / blood supply*
  • Veins / anatomy & histology
  • Veins / embryology
  • Veins / pathology
  • Veins / physiology