Effect of spinal flexion on the conus medullaris: a case series using magnetic resonance imaging.

Abstract

Anatomy textbooks state that the conus medullaris moves cephalad when the vertebral column is flexed. This could confer protection against spinal cord damage during dural puncture, but has not been demonstrated in vivo. We therefore imaged the spine of 10 volunteers using magnetic resonance imaging to determine if such movement occurs with the spine in the neutral and flexed positions. The position of the conus medullaris in relation to the superior endplate of the L1 vertebra was determined. On spinal flexion, the conus medullaris moved cephalad in three subjects and caudad in three subjects, with no change in the remaining four. The median overall movement (95% CI [range]) was 0 mm (4 mm caudad to 1 mm cephalad [3 mm caudad to 1 mm cephalad]; p = 1.0). Whilst spinal flexion may facilitate needle insertion during dural puncture, it is unlikely to confer extra protection against spinal cord damage.

Cite this paper

@article{Fettes2006EffectOS, title={Effect of spinal flexion on the conus medullaris: a case series using magnetic resonance imaging.}, author={P. D. W. Fettes and Kate Leslie and Stacy McNabb and Paula J Smith}, journal={Anaesthesia}, year={2006}, volume={61 6}, pages={521-3} }