MR angiography of normal intradural vessels of the thoracolumbar spine

Brian C. Bowen, Steven DePrima, Pradip M. Pattany, Alexander Marcillo, Parley Madsen, Robert M. Quencer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: To identify and describe the normal intradural vessels detected on MR angiograms of the thoracolumbar spine. METHODS: Six adult subjects who had clinical evidence of myelopathy, yet normal findings at spinal digital subtraction angiography (DSA), were also studied without and with contrast- enhanced MR imaging and three-dimensional time-of-flight, single-slab MR angiography. Sagittal and coronal subvolume (targeted) maximum intensity projection images were compared with arterial and venous phase DSA images. Angiographic images were then compared with postmortem, formalin fixed cord specimens. RESULTS: Recognizable intradural vessels were detected only on contrast-enhanced MR angiograms. These vessels corresponded to the posterior and/or anterior median (midline) veins and the great medullary veins. The median veins had variable but mild tortuosity. The medullary veins, which extended from the median veins and coronal venous plexus on the cord surface to the epidural venous plexus, were relatively straight and usually located at T-12 or L-1. The anterior spinal artery could partially contribute to the anterior midline vascular signal. CONCLUSION: The intradural vessels identified on contrast-enhanced MR angiograms are primarily veins, and these are usually the largest vessels on or near the cord surface. The limited number and minimal tortuosity of these veins may serve as a baseline for the examination of patients with clinically suspected arteriovenous malformation or fistula.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)483-494
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Neuroradiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 15 1996


  • Magnetic resonance angiography
  • Meninges, magnetic resonance
  • Spinal cord, anatomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology


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