Annulus fibrosus

The annulus fibrosus surrounds the nucleus pulposus and together they form the intervertebral disc.

Gross anatomy

The annulus comprises 15 to 20 collagenous (type I) laminae which run obliquely from the edge of one vertebra down to the edge of the vertebra below. The direction of the fibres alternates from lamina to lamina. The inner portion of the annulus is made of fibrocartilage which gradually blends with the nucleus pulposus.

Posterolaterally, the annulus is not only thinner but also has more disorganised collagen bundles, and a greater proportion of vertical fibres, contributing to it being the weakest part, and accounting for the high rate of disc herniation.  Furthermore, the composition of particularly the annulus fibrosis varies by spinal level.

Within the posterior cervical discs, the annulus fibrosus is thinner and consists of a single set of longitudinally-oriented fibres, rather than the multilaminated structure seen in lumbar discs 3.

Anatomy: Spine
Share article

Article information

rID: 6113
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Anulus fibrosus

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and figures

  • Drag
    Figure 1: labelled CT
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Figure 2: labelled CT
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.
    Loadinganimation

    Alert accept

    Error Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

    Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.