A peridural membranous layer exists between the bony wall of the spinal canal and the dura mater, but reports on the anatomy of this structure have been inconsistent. The objective of this study is to give a precise description of the peridural membrane (PDM) and to define it unambiguously as a distinct and unique anatomical entity. Thirty-four cadaveric sections of human thoraco-lumbar spines were dissected. On gross examination, the PDM appears as a smooth hollow tube that covers the bony wall of the spinal canal. An evagination of this tube into the neural foramen contains the exiting spinal nerve. The entire epidural venous plexus, including its extension into the neural foramina, is contained in the body of the PDM. Histological examination of the PDM shows a variable distribution of veins arteries, lymphatics, and nerves embedded in a continuous sheath of fibrous, areolar, and adipose tissue. The posterior longitudinal ligament may be considered a dense condensation of fibrous tissue within the membrane. Thus, the PDM is a unique, continuous, and complete anatomical structure. In the spinal canal, the PDM is adjacent to the periosteum. In the neural foramen, suprapedicular PDM and pedicular periosteum separate anatomically to form a suprapedicular compartment, bounded anteriorly by the intervertebral disc and posteriorly by the facet joint. Trauma or degeneration of the disc or facet joint may lead to inflammation and pain sensitization of PDM. This protective mechanism may be of considerable importance for the functioning of the spine under conditions of strain.
Keywords: epidural venous plexus; neural foramen; peridural membrane; spine; suprapedicular compartment.
© 2020 American Association for Anatomy.