Spinal Cord

The spinal cord is a cylindrical structure that begins at the foramen magnum, where it is continuous with the medulla oblongata of the brain. Inferiorly, it terminates in the tapered conus medullaris at the lower border of the first lumbar vertebra. The conus is continued at its apex by a prolongation of the pia mater, the filum terminale, which extends to the base of the coccyx. The spinal cord gives rise to 31 pairs of spinal nerves: 8 cervical, 12 thoracic, 5 lumbar, 5 sacral, and 1 coccygeal. Each spinal nerve emerges through the intervertebral foramen corresponding to the appropriate spinal cord level. There is disproportionate growth in the length of the spinal cord and the vertebral column. As a result of this inequality, the length of the nerve roots increase and at lower levels, both progressively. The lower nerve roots, inferior to the conus medullaris, form an array of nerves around the filum terminale; this is called the cauda equina.

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