Knowledge of the structure and function of the central canal of the human spinal cord is important in understanding the pathogenesis of syringomyelia. Analysis of the morphology of the central canal is difficult using isolated histological sections. A 3-dimensional reconstruction technique using digitised histological sections was therefore developed to visualise the morphology of the central canal. The technique was used to study the canal in the conus medullaris and filum terminale of 1 sheep and 4 human spinal cords. A variety of morphological features were demonstrated including canal duplication, a terminal ventricle and openings from the canal lumen into the subarachnoid space. The findings suggest the possibility of a functionally important fluid communication in the caudal spinal cord which may have a sink function.
- Spinal cord