Introduction: Multiple collaterals originate from three main longitudinal vessels to perfuse the human spinal cord. Only a few classic studies published in the last century have investigated these collaterals. The current work proposes a possible classification of these vessels and analyzes their relative abundance along spinal cord segments. Materials and Methods: Human spinal cords (n = 30) from male and female cadavers were injected with colored latex through the vertebral, ascending cervical, costocervical trunk and segmental arteries and then fixed in formaldehyde solution. Afterwards, spinal vessels were dissected and the relative abundances of each type of collateral were quantified and compared between different spinal cord segments. Results: Collaterals of the anterior longitudinal pathway can be classified as central arteries and arteries for the anterior and lateral columns. Collaterals for the anterior column can be classified into two types: anteromedial and anterolateral. Arteries for the lateral column can be classified, according to their relationship with the dentate ligament, as either preligamentous or post-ligamentous. The collaterals of posterior longitudinal pathways can be divided between those for the posterior and those for the lateral column. In turn, the arteries for the posterior column can be classified into three types: median posterior, posteromedial and posterolateral. The collaterals for the lateral column were also classified as either pre- or post-ligamentous. Conclusion: The relative abundance of the various types of collateral and anastomoses between longitudinal pathways was inhomogeneous along the spinal cord, with several statistically significant differences observed between spinal segments.
- human spinal cord
- longitudinal anastomotic pathways