MICROSCAPE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MICROSCAPE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Light microscopy of an intervertebral disc between two developing vertebral bodies (irregular pink structures) 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-pink) form the outer margins of the disc, called the annulus 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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