Thoracolumbar Spine

  • Naomi Winn
  • Eva LlopisEmail author
  • Victor N. Cassar-Pullicino
Part of the Medical Radiology book series (MEDRAD)


The spine is a complex anatomical structure, undergoing huge developmental changes from birth to attain skeletal maturity. At birth the spine is predominantly cartilaginous, with 30% ossification. The primary ossification centres in each vertebra expand to demarcate the parallel growth plates, which then contribute to cranio-caudal growth under normal physiological stresses. Interstitial growth in the physes accounts for circumferential growth (Debnath 2010). By 5 years of age, 65% of the spine is ossified, and the spinal canal capacity has reached up to 95% of its final size. The growth velocity is particularly rapid during the first 5 years of life, then slowing towards puberty. From the age of 5 to puberty, the growth of the thoracolumbar spine is in the order of 15 cm, with 2/3 accounted for by the thoracic spine. By age 10, approximately 11 cm of thoracolumbar growth remains for males and 7 cm for females. At the onset of puberty, there is an average of a further 9.5 cm thoracolumbar growth for males and 6.5 cm for females (Bick and Copel 1950). The rate of growth during puberty remains less than the initial growth from birth to age 5.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Naomi Winn
    • 1
  • Eva Llopis
    • 2
    Email author
  • Victor N. Cassar-Pullicino
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of RadiologyRobert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation TrustOswestryUK
  2. 2.Hospital Universitario de La RiberaAlziraSpain

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