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The Pial Ligaments of the Anterior Spinal Artery and Their Stretch Receptors: A Spinal Cord Distraction-Sensing System?

Parke, Wesley W., PhD; Whalen, Joseph L., MD, PhD

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The pial sheath of the anterior spinal artery displays a system of ligaments that course along the ventral surfaces of the anterior spinal artery and its medullary feeder arteries on the lower half of the spinal cord. Frequently, discrete ligamentous straps extend from these anterior spinal artery ligaments to the sheath of an anterior spinal nerve root to reinforce the general cauda equina pial connections to this system. Microscopy of ligament sections revealed that numerous Golgi-type neurofascicular receptors were oriented longitudinally among the ligament fascicles and associated with well-myelinated nerves. As this type of mechanoreceptor has been known only in association with stretch reflex mediation in the musculoskeletal system, it appeared likely that these anterior spinal artery ligaments and their homologous type of receptors may be implicated in sensing distraction of the thoracolumbar spinal cord and protectively modifying the actions of the involved spinal musculature.

From the Robert E. Van Demark Institute of Anatomical Research, Department of Anatomy, University of South Dakota School of Medicine, Vermillion, South Dakota, and the Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, Illinois.

Accepted for publication April 1, 1993.

© Lippincott-Raven Publishers.