Central canal

From WikiMD's Wellness Encyclopedia


Central Canal refers to a fluid-filled channel in the center of the spinal cord. The central canal is continuous with the ventricular system of the brain, specifically connecting with the fourth ventricle. This canal is filled with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which is produced in the choroid plexus of the ventricles. The CSF circulates through the central canal, providing the spinal cord with nutrients, removing waste, and acting as a cushion to protect the spinal cord within the spinal column.

Anatomy[edit | edit source]

The central canal is a small, ependymal-lined channel that runs the length of the spinal cord. It is situated in the gray commissure, which is part of the gray matter of the spinal cord. The diameter of the central canal can vary significantly among individuals and may change with age. In some cases, the central canal can become enlarged, a condition known as syringomyelia, where a cyst or cavity forms within the spinal cord, potentially leading to neurological symptoms.

Function[edit | edit source]

The primary function of the central canal is to transport cerebrospinal fluid throughout the spinal cord. CSF plays a crucial role in maintaining the homeostasis of the central nervous system (CNS), providing a protective cushioning for the brain and spinal cord, and facilitating the removal of metabolic waste. The flow of CSF also allows for the distribution of neurochemicals essential for proper neural function.

Clinical Significance[edit | edit source]

Alterations in the size or structure of the central canal can lead to clinical conditions. Syringomyelia is one such condition, where an abnormal expansion of the central canal causes the formation of a syrinx (cyst) that can compress and damage surrounding nerve fibers. This can lead to pain, weakness, and sensory loss, among other symptoms. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to managing the condition and preventing further neurological damage.

Development[edit | edit source]

During embryonic development, the central canal forms from the neural tube, which eventually gives rise to the CNS. The canal remains a critical component of the spinal cord's structure throughout life, although its size and the flow of CSF through it may decrease with age.


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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD