OBJECTIVE: To describe previously unrecorded attachments of the ligamentum nuchae to the cervical posterior spinal dura, and to posterolateral parts of the occipital bone in an anatomical study, with particular reference to the deep aspects of the suboccipital triangle and upper cervical region.
DESIGN: Dissections of 10 heads and necks from embalmed cadavers were made in the suboccipital and upper cervical region, either in whole specimens or in parasagitally sectioned specimens.
RESULTS: In parasagittally sectioned material, continuity was observed between the ligamentum nuchae and the posterior cervical spinal dura as the latter passed deeply from the midline toward the dura, but only at the first and second cervical vertebral levels. The ligamentum nuchae also passed bilaterally on to the occipital bone as far as the sutures between the occipital bone and the temporal bones, approaching the inferior nuchal line superiorly.
CONCLUSION: The present study is the first to describe the full morphology of the relationship between the ligamentum nuchae and the cervical posterior spinal dura and the lateral aspects of the occipital bone. This is of significance for understanding the biomechanics of the cervical spine, particularly rotational movements of the head in the sagittal or transverse planes. This may have implications in manipulative therapy for conditions as cervicogenic headache and for various degenerative disorders affecting the cervical spine.
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