Mechanical properties and function of the spinal pia mater

Hiroshi Ozawa, Takeo Matsumoto, Toshiro Ohashi, Masaaki Sato, Shoichi Kokubun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


Object. The pia mater has received little attention regarding its function in the deformation of the spinal cord under compression. In this study the mechanical properties and function of the spinal pia mater were investigated using three methods. Methods. Spinal cord segments were excised from rabbits. The elastic modulus of the pia mater was measured by performing a tensile test using specimens with the pia mater intact and ones with the pia mater stripped off. The stiffness of the spinal cord was examined by performing a compression test with specimens containing an intact pia mater and ones with a pia mater that was incised at both sides. The cross-sectional area and circumference of the spinal cord were measured on axial views of magnetic resonance images in patients with cervical disc herniations before and after surgery. The pia mater had an elastic modulus of 2300 kPa, which was 460 times higher than that of spinal cord parenchyma. By covering the parenchyma, it tripled the overall elastic modulus of the spinal cord. The pia mater increased the stiffness of the spinal cord and enhanced its shape recovery after removal of the compression. The cross-sectional area of the spinal cord increased after surgery, whereas the circumference of the spinal cord changed little. Conclusions. The pia mater firmly covers the spinal cord and has a high elastic modulus; it therefore provides a constraint on the spinal cord surface. It prevents elongation of the circumference and produces a large strain energy that is responsible for shape restoration following decompression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-127
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number1 SUPPL.
Publication statusPublished - 2004 Jul


  • Elastic modulus
  • Pia mater
  • Spinal cord

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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