MICROSCAPE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MICROSCAPE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Light microscopy of an intervertebral disc between two developing vertebral bodies their cartilage growth plates stained blue. The centre of the disc is cells and a gel-like matrix, called the nucleus pulposus. It is a remnant of the head-to-tail axis of the early embryo (the notochord). Fibrocartilage rings (blue-green) form the outer margins of the disc, called the nucleus fibrosus. The disc acts like a cushion between the stacked vertebral bodies and resists compression but allows movements of each vertebra. A slipped disc' is an abnormal protrusion (herniation) of the central portion through a damaged region or tear of the fibrocartilage. Magnification x50 when printed at 10 cm height.
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