The cervical spine with the intervertebral discs. Click the image to switch between the superficial & deep components of the cervical disc.
The cervical intervertebral discs differ significantly from the lumbar discs1 – the cervical anulus fibrosus does not consist of concentric lamellae of collagen fibers that uniformly surround the nucleus pulposus. Rather, the cervical anulus is crescentic, being thick anteriorly but tapering in thickness laterally as it approaches the uncovertebral region.2.
The superficial fibers of the anulus fibrosus run more vertically compared to the lumbar discs. Deeper the anulus fibrosus transforms into the homogeneous mass – the fibrocartilage core2 –, that, possibly, during disc aging and maturation, gradually substitutes the nucleus pulposus3–5.
1 Bland, J. & Boushey, D. Anatomy and physiology of the cervical spine. Semin Arthritis Rheum 1990, 20(1):1-20.
2 Mercer, S. & Bogduk, N. The ligaments and annulus fibrosus of human adult cervical intervertebral discs. Spine 1999, 24(7):619–626.
3 Taylor, J. Point of view: The ligaments and annulus fibrosus of human adult cervical intervertebral discs. Spine 1999, 24(7):627–628.
4 Driscoll, S. et al. In-vivo T2 relaxation times of asymptomatic cervi al intervertebral discs. Skeletal Radiol 2016, 45(3):393-400.
5 Chen, C. et al. Quantitative T2 magnetic resonance imaging compared to morphological grading of the early cervical intervertebral disc degeneration: an evaluation approach in asymptomatic young adults. Plos One 2014, 9(2):e87856.