What is the prenatal developmental anatomy of the spine relative to idiopathic scoliosis?

Updated: Dec 02, 2020
  • Author: Charles T Mehlman, DO, MPH; Chief Editor: Jeffrey A Goldstein, MD  more...
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Significant growth, development, and differentiation occur as a single-cell zygote progresses to become an approximately 100 trillion–cell adult human. Identifiable spine development has begun by week 3 of gestation. First, the neural tube forms. Later, paired somites appear (at 4.5 weeks' gestation), and spinal nerves are present by gestational week 6. A discernible cartilage model of the spine is present by gestational week 7.

The bone and cartilage of the spine are mesodermal derivatives, as are significant portions of the cardiovascular and urogenital systems. This explains the frequent coexistence of congenital spine anomalies with congenital cardiac and kidney defects. Thus, gestational weeks 3-7 are very important in the development of all of these major body systems.

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