Morphology of the human internal vertebral venous plexus: a cadaver study after intravenous Araldite CY 221 injection

Anat Rec. 1997 Oct;249(2):285-94. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0185(199710)249:2<285::AID-AR16>3.0.CO;2-K.


Reviewing the literature on the vascular anatomy of the spinal epidural space, it appeared that the knowledge of the internal vertebral venous plexus is limited. Injection studies of the entire internal vertebral venous plexus after application of modern techniques, to the best of our knowledge, have never been performed. Based on the clinical importance of these structures, it was decided to study the human vertebral venous system after Araldite CY 221 injection, in order to update the morphological characteristics of the internal vertebral venous system. The vertebral venous systems of ten fresh human cadavers, between 64 and 93 years of age, were injected with Araldite CY 221 mixture. All cadavers were dissected and the posterior and anterior internal vertebral venous plexuses were studied in detail. The anterior part of the internal vertebral venous plexus is fairly constant. On the contrary, the posterior internal vertebral venous plexus showed a striking segmental and interindividual variability. In the thoracic area, two types of traversing veins are observed. Both types show a somewhat symmetrical "inversed V" configuration. No anatomical valves were observed. Nevertheless, anterograde flushing (via the femoral veins) of the vertebral venous system appeared to proceed much faster than retrograde flushing (via the superior vena cava). The classical picture of the internal vertebral venous plexus appears a simplification of the actual situation. Especially in the posterior part, segmental and interindividual differences are prominent. The preferential direction of the flow during flushing suggests the presence of functional valves, which are probably located in the thoracic part of the posterior internal vertebral venous plexus, resulting from the typical shape of the veins in this area. This might explain the difficulties with imaging of the posterior part of the internal vertebral venous plexus in vitro as well as in vivo. Further study is needed to determine whether the configuration of the posterior internal vertebral venous plexus in younger individuals is different, compared with the presently studied aged subjects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cadaver
  • Epidural Space / anatomy & histology*
  • Epoxy Resins
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lumbosacral Region / anatomy & histology
  • Lumbosacral Region / blood supply
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Spine / anatomy & histology
  • Spine / blood supply*
  • Veins / anatomy & histology


  • Epoxy Resins