Cartilaginous development of the human craniovertebral junction as visualised by a new three-dimensional computer reconstruction technique

KM David, JC McLachlan, James Fortune Aiton, Susan Challoner Whiten, SD Smart, PV Thorogood, HA Crockard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Serial transverse histological sections of the human craniovertebral junction (CVJ) of 4 normal human embryos (aged 45 to 58 d) and of a fetus (77 d) were used to create 3-dimensional computer models of the CVJ. The main components modelled included the chondrified basioccipital, atlas and axis, notochord, the vertebrobasilar complex and the spinal cord. Chondrification of the component parts of CVJ had already begun at 45 d (Stage 18). The odontoid process appeared to develop from a short eminence of the axis forming a third occipital condyIe with the caudal end of the basioccipital. The cartilaginous anterior arch of C1 appeared at 50-53 d (Stages 20-21). Neural arches of C1 and C2 showed gradual closure, but there was still a wide posterior spina bifida in the oldest reconstructed specimen (77 d fetus). The position of the notochord was constant throughout. The normal course of the vertebral arteries was already established and the chondrified vertebral foramina showed progressive closure. The findings confirm that the odontoid process is not derived solely from the centrum of C1 and that there is a 'natural basilar invagination' of C2 during normal embryonic development. On the basis of the observed shape and developmental pattern of structures of the cartilaginous human CVJ, we suggest that certain pathologies are likely to originate during the chondrification phase of development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-277
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Volume192
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1998

Keywords

  • skull base
  • cervical spine
  • 3-DIMENSIONAL RECONSTRUCTION
  • SERIAL SECTIONS
  • ODONTOID PROCESS
  • OSTEOMYELOFIBROSIS
  • ABNORMALITIES
  • DATABASE
  • DESIGN

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