A description of the lumbar interfascial triangle and its relation with the lateral raphe: anatomical constituents of load transfer through the lateral margin of the thoracolumbar fascia

Authors


M. D. Schuenke, Department of Anatomy, University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, Biddeford, ME 04005, USA. E: mschuenke@une.edu

Abstract

Movement and stability of the lumbosacral region is contingent on the balance of forces distributed through the myofascial planes associated with the thoracolumbar fascia (TLF). This structure is located at the common intersection of several extremity muscles (e.g. latissimus dorsi and gluteus maximus), as well as hypaxial (e.g. ventral trunk muscles) and epaxial (paraspinal) muscles. The mechanical properties of the fascial constituents establish the parameters guiding the dynamic interaction of muscle groups that stabilize the lumbosacral spine. Understanding the construction of this complex myofascial junction is fundamental to biomechanical analysis and implementation of effective rehabilitation in individuals with low back and pelvic girdle pain. Therefore, the main objectives of this study were to describe the anatomy of the lateral margin of the TLF, and specifically the interface between the fascial sheath surrounding the paraspinal muscles and the aponeurosis of the transversus abdominis (TA) and internal oblique (IO) muscles. The lateral margin of the TLF was exposed via serial reduction dissections from anterior and posterior approaches. Axial sections (cadaveric and magnetic resonance imaging) were examined to characterize the region between the TA and IO aponeurosis and the paraspinal muscles. It is confirmed that the paraspinal muscles are enveloped by a continuous paraspinal retinacular sheath (PRS), formed by the deep lamina of the posterior layer of the TLF. The PRS extends from the spinous process to transverse process, and is distinct from both the superficial lamina of the posterior layer and middle layer of the TLF. As the aponeurosis approaches the lateral border of the PRS, it appears to separate into two distinct laminae, which join the anterior and posterior walls of the PRS. This configuration creates a previously undescribed fat-filled lumbar interfascial triangle situated along the lateral border of the paraspinal muscles from the 12th rib to the iliac crest. This triangle results in the unification of different fascial sheaths along the lateral border of the TLF, creating a ridged-union of dense connective tissue that has been termed the lateral raphe (Spine, 9,1984, 163). This triangle may function in the distribution of laterally mediated tension to balance different viscoelastic moduli, along either the middle or posterior layers of the TLF.

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