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Attachments of the Posterior Layer of Lumbar Fascia

Barker, Priscilla J., BAppSc (Physio); Briggs, Christopher A., PhD


Study Design. Superficial and deep laminae of the posterior layer of lumbar fascia were dissected. The lumbar portion was measured for evidence of segmental thickenings. Superior attachments were dissected, documented, and photographed.

Objectives. To verify the existence of posterior accessory ligaments and establish the superior attachments and fiber angles of the posterior layer of lumbar fascia.

Summary of Background Data. There have been two small dissection studies on the posterior layer. Their findings are conflicting in several areas of clinical significance. Thickenings in the lumbar region were described in one study, but have not been verified. The superior attachments of the posterior layer have not been formally documented.

Methods. Study 1: In 21 embalmed cadavers, the lumbar region of the posterior layer was dissected. The lumbar spinous processes and adjacent fascia were marked. The fascia was removed and examined, and its thickness measured with a manual micrometer. Results were statistically analyzed. Study 2: Superior attachments of the posterior layer in 20 cadavers were dissected and photographed. Capacity to transmit tension was estimated and documented photographically, and fiber angles measured in situ.

Results. Study 1: There was no evidence of macroscopic segmental thickening in the posterior layer. Study 2: The superficial lamina was continuous superiorly with the rhomboids, and the deep lamina with the tendons of splenius cervicis and capitis. These previously undocumented attachments were of variable thickness and fibrosity, and capable of transmitting tension.

Conclusions. Both superficial and deep laminae of the posterior layer are more extensive superiorly than previously thought. This may have implications for certain tests used in assessment and management of low back pain such as the slump and “nonorganic” tests. The thickness of the superior attachments is variable. Their capacity for load bearing is yet to be quantified.

From the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, the University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Acknowledgment date: August 5, 1998.

First revision date: October 26, 1998.

Acceptance date: December 2, 1998.

Address reprint requests to

Priscilla Barker, BAppSc (Physio)

C/-Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology

University of Melbourne

Parkville Victoria 3052


Device status category: 1.

© 1999 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins