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Ascending Tracts Neuro Anatomy

Ascending Tracts Neuro Anatomy

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Published by: rachellesliedeleon on Sep 21, 2009
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Gross Appearance & Structure of the Spinal Cord
Cylindrical; < 1 inch diameter; occupies 2/3 of vertebral canal
25 cm shorter than vertebral column.
Begins at foramen magnum
terminates at lower border of L1(adult) / upper border of L3 (children) as tapered conusmedullaris.
Surrounded by meninges: Dura, Arachnoid, Pia (forms denticulateligament and filum terminale)
CSF surrounds SC in the subarachnoid space
 At 2 regions, it is enlarged and gives origin to: (1) Cervical region
brachial plexus (cervical enlargement); (2) thoracic & lumbar Region
lumbosacral plexus (lumbar enlargement)
Lumbar & spinal nerves have long roots & descends in a bundlecalled cauda equine.
Tapers inferiorly into Conus Medullaris, fr. Apex w/c a prolongationof Pia Matter, descends and is attached to post. Surface of coccyx,
 Anterior median fissure – deep longitudinal fissure of the cord inmidline anteriorly.
Posterior median sulcus – shallow furrow surface on posterior surface of cord.
Composed of inner gray matter and outer white matter 
No indication that the SC is segmented
H-shaped pillar w/ anterior & posterior gray columns or hornsunited by a gray commissure w/ a central canal
Thoracic & Lumbar segment: has small lateral gray column
Histo: mixture of multipolar neurons, neuroglia and BV1.Anterior gray horn
Greater in cervical and lumbosacral segments
 Alpha efferents – innervate skeletal muscle
Gamma efferents – smaller, innervate intrafusal muscles of neuromuscular spindle3 basic groups of nerve cells in
2.Posterior gray horn
4 nerve cell groups(2 extend the whole cord, 2 only in thoracic & lumbar segments)3.Lateral gray hornInteromedial group of cells fromT1-L2 (L3)Form preganglionic sympatheticfibersSimilar cells in S2, 3. 4 segmentsForm preganglionicparasympathetic fibers**Rexed’s Laminar organization of the Gray Matter (Manter)Lamina I: Most dorsal part of the dorsal hornLamina II: Corresponds to substantia nigraLamina I – VI : Comfined to dorsal hornLamina VII: intermediate gray area, contains nucleus dorsalis andinteromediolateral gray columnLamina VIII: on ventral horn, send commissural fibers to opposite side of cordLamina IX: restricted to ventral horn, most ventral part, contains alphaand gamma motor neuronsLamina X: Surrounds central canal
Illustration of Rexed’s 10 layers & Table 4-1: Comparison of structuraldetails in diff. Regions of spinal cord
see Last page
The Gray Commissure and Central Canal
Connects anterior and posterior gray columns
Central canal at the center of gray commissure, presentthroughout SC
Superiorly: continuous w/ central canal of caudal half of medulla oblongata & above this, opens into the 4
Inferiorly: in conus medullaris, expands to fusiform terminalventricle and terminates below w/in the roof of filum terminale.
Filled w/ CSF and lined w/ ciliated columnar epithelium
Mixture of nerve fibers, neuroglia, and BC
White color is due to hign proportion of myelinated nerve fibers.
Divided into anterior, lateral & posterior white columns or funiculi
More white matter than gray matter at cervical levels because of fibers connecting the entire cord with the brain
Various nerve bundles or tracts pass through the cords
Nerve fibers of diff sizes and function are segregated into nervebundles or tracts in the white matter.
Conducts info w/c may not reach consciousness
Info is divided into 2 main groups:
Exteroceptive – originates from outside the body
pain, temp,touch)
Proprioceptive – originates from inside the body (muscles & joints)
Anatomical Organization
 Ascending pathway consists of 3 neuronsFirst-order neuronCell body is at
Posterior RootGanglion
Peripheral process: connects w/ sensoryreceptor Central process: @ SC aand connects w/2
order neuronSecond-order neuronGives rise to axon that cross opposite side(decussates) and ascends to a higher level of CNS, synapses w/ 3
order N.Third-order order neuronUsually in thalamusGives rise to projection fiber that passes toa sensory region of cerebral cortex
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Present in mostsegmentsInnervate skeletal muscle of neck and trunk includingintercostals and abdominalmusculature
(smallestof the 3)Segments C3, 4, 5Innervate the diaphragm(phrenic nerve)Upper 5 or 6 cervicalInnervate sternocleidomastoid &trapezius (accessory nerve)L2 to S1 segmentsLumbosacral nucleus
Cervical &lumbosacral segmentsInnervate skeletal muscle of limbs
 Apex of posterior gray horn; Golgi type II neurons
Receives afferent fibers of pain, touch &temperature from posterior root
Receives input fr. descending fibers fromsupraspinal levels
Inputs of pain and temp. sensation are modifiedby excitatory or inhibitory information fr. other sensory inputs and by info. fr. Cerebral cortex
 Are large cells anterior to substantia gelatinosa
Main bulk of posterior gray horn
Receive fibers from posterior white column that isassociated w/ sense of position and movement(proprioception), vibration, 2-point discrimination
Base of posterior gray horn (C8 to L3 or L4)
Cells are large and associated w/ proprioceptiveendings (neuromuscular & tendon spindles)
Medium sized cells lateral to nucleus dorsalis
From T1 to L3 segments
 Associated w/ receiving visceral afferent info.

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