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|A typical thoracic vertebra, viewed from above. (Spinal canal is not labeled, but the hole in the center would comprise part of a spinal canal.)|
|Human body cavities: The spinal canal is called spinal cavity to the left|
The spinal canal (or vertebral canal or spinal cavity) is the space in vertebrae through which the spinal cord passes. It is a process of the dorsal human body cavity. This canal is enclosed within the vertebral foramen of the vertebrae. In the intervertebral spaces, the canal is protected by the ligamentum flavum posteriorly and the posterior longitudinal ligament anteriorly.
The outermost layer of the meninges, the dura mater, divides the spinal canal into epidural and subdural regions. The subdural space is filled with cerebrospinal fluid and contains the structures of the spinal cord enclosed by several additional membranes. The epidural space contains loose fatty tissue, and a network of large, thin-walled blood vessels called the epidural venous plexus.
The spinal canal was first described by Jean Fernel.