Innervation of the human vertebral body: A histologic study
The histology of 69 human vertebral bodies from 23 individuals was studied by hematoxylin and eosin staining using a technique that allowed the creation of complete, large histologic sections of individual vertebral bodies. Particular attention was directed toward the documentation of intraosseous nerves. The vertebral bodies were dissected free of soft tissue, and then sectioned using a diamond wafering saw into 3-mm sagittal segments. Sections were then decalcified and whole-mounted in paraffin blocks before tissue sectioning using a very-large-format microtome. One hundred thirty-eight tissue sections were prepared for evaluation. Neurovascular bundles and intraosseous nerves were routinely identified within human vertebral bone. Nerves were noted to enter the vertebral body via the centrally located posterior vascular foramen and were found to accompany the basivertebral vessels. Branches from these nerves coursed to both central and peripheral areas of the vertebral body. Nerves were also documented that entered the vertebral body by penetrating the anterior cortex to course into the marrow. Although previous studies have documented nerves within long bones, and others have described the histology of the intervertebral disc and associated soft tissues, previous literature that documents the innervation of the human vertebral body has been very sparse. The documentation of nerve tissue within normal human vertebrae further supports the proposed role of neuronal factors in the regulation of bone physiology. Furthermore, it is possible that such intraosseous nerves may play a role in the clinical problem of back pain.