An anatomical and radiological study of the tectorial membrane and its clinical implications

Sci Rep. 2022 Dec 12;12(1):21480. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-25213-2.


The radiological image of an intact tectorial membrane (TM) became an important favorable prognostic factor for craniovertebral instability. This study visualized the fascial layers of the TM and adjacent connective tissues with clinical significance by micro-CT and histological analysis. The TM firmly attached to the bony surface of the clivus, traversed the atlantoaxial joint posteriorly, and was inserted to the body of the axis showing wide distribution on the craniovertebral junction. The supradental space between the clivus, dens of the axis, anterior atlantooccipital membrane, and the TM contained profound venous networks within the adipose tissues. At the body of the axis, the compact TM layer is gradually divided into multiple layers and the deeper TM layers reached the axis while the superficial layer continued to the posterior longitudinal ligament of the lower vertebrae. The consistent presence of the fat pad and venous plexus in the supradental space and firm stabilization of the TM on the craniovertebral junction was demonstrated by high-resolution radiologic images and histological analysis. The evaluation of the TM integrity is a promising diagnostic factor for traumatic craniovertebral dislocation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Atlanto-Axial Joint* / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Joint Dislocations*
  • Ligaments, Articular
  • Radiography
  • Tectorial Membrane