Abstract

The spinal cord is encased by spinal meninges called the pia, arachnoid, and dura maters. Among these membranes, the dura mater is the thick and outermost layer and is the toughest and strongest. Thus, mechanical failure of the dura mater can lead to spontaneous cerebrospinal fluid leaks or hypovolemia, resulting in a complication or exacerbation of unfavorable symptoms involved in a mild traumatic brain injury. To develop protective equipment that can help prevent such injuries, accurate characterization of the spinal dura mater is required, especially regarding the mechanical properties at different anatomical sites. In this study, we used an equiload biaxial tensile tester to investigate the mechanical properties of porcine meningeal dura mater along the whole length of the spine. The resultant strain of the dorsal side was greater than that of the ventral side (P < 0.01), while the circumferential direction was significantly stiffer than the longitudinal direction (P < 0.01) at lower strains regardless of the spinal level. We also found that the material stiffness progressively increased from the cervical level to the thoracolumbar level at lower strains, which implies that the dura mater inherently possesses structurally preferred features or functions because the neck requires sufficient flexibility for daily activities. Further, Young's modulus was significantly less on the dorsal side than on the ventral side at higher strains (P < 0.05), suggesting that the dorsal side is readily elongated by spinal flexion even within the range of physiological motion.

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