[Is posterior lumbar epidural space partitioned?].
Ann Fr Anesth Reanim. 1992;11(1):72-81
Authors: Morisot P
The anatomy of the posterior lumbar epidural space (PLES) has been extensively studied. Besides the anatomists, surgeons, radiologists and anaesthetists have taken an interest in this. However, because each one has considered the PLES from his own specialist field, descriptions are not always concordant. In particular, the reality of a medial partition in the PLES has been suggested by epidurography and intraoperative observations. Lewit and Sereghy and Luyendijk opened the debate by reporting, on antero-posterior epidurographic films, a clear-cut, medial, vertical and narrow picture which partitioned the PLES. However, this was not constant. Savolaine et al. also recognized this partition on epidurographic CT scans. During laminectomies, Luyendijk has taken photographs of a medial fold of the dura mater which appeared to hold it to the posterior vertebral arch, being collapsed on either side of the midline. He named it “plica mediana dorsalis durae matris” (PMD). Several anaesthetists considered that this could explain why epidural analgesia sometimes acted on one side only. Husemeyer and White, and Harrison et al., have tried to confirm this experimentally by making casts with polymerizing resins in cadavers. They did not get very convincing results. Blomberg also tried to see this space by epiduroscopy in the cadaver. Unfortunately, for technical reasons, his photographs were of poor quality. He, however, reported having seen each time the PMD and a band of connective tissue fixing it to the vertebral arch in the midline. However, all these anatomical studies used methods which alter the natural structures. Their results are therefore questionable. The PLES is a virtual space. Histological studies have shown that it is filled with fatty tissue between the dura and the vertebral arch. It is therefore conceivable that any liquid injected into the PLES, such as contrast medium or local anaesthetic, must push back the dura, the only tissue which can move to give it any room. The fatty tissue could therefore be compressed and take any of the shapes which have been described on epidurography. On the other hand, should it be torn, it seems this fatty tissue could make up these haphazard fibrous tracts tensed between the dura and the vertebral arch, such as described in classical anatomy, as Bonica recalled. These can be clearly seen during surgical and anatomical dissections, and during endoscopies carried out on cadavers with sufficient optical means, as opposed to the medial fibrous band fixing the dura to the vertebral arch.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)
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