Disorders of the spinal cord and roots



The distinctive patterns of myelopathy (disorder of the spinal cord) and radiculopathy (disorder of spinal roots) are a direct consequence of the striking anatomy of the spinal cord:

  • its near cylindrical, segmental structure of great length (42–45 cm in adults)

  • the marked proximity of ascending and descending long tracts within the confines of a narrow cross sectional area (the maximum circumference of the cervical enlargement of the cord is approximately 38 mm)

  • enclosure by meninges and vertebral column

  • vulnerable blood supply.

  • Having established that a patient’s clinical presentation localises to the spinal cord and/or roots, clues to the pathological diagnosis emerge from the timing of the symptoms (table 1), as is usually the case in neurology.

    Neuroanatomy and specific syndromesSpinal cord

    The relationships of the white matter tracts to one another and to the…


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