The notochord represents the earliest foetal axial skeleton, and extending from the Rathke's pouch to the coccyx. It is a primitive cell line in which the skull base and the vertebral column develop around. The notochord which is cylindrical in shape is replaced by sclerotomes that produce cartilage and subsequently bone. Remnants of the notochord usually remain near the midline and are entrapped within bone. Chordomas are a malignant tumour that can develop from the notochord.

The nucleus pulposus of the intervertebral discs represent residual notochord.

Vestigial non neoplastic notochordal remnants are seen in up to 2% of cadavers, usually in the midline. They are located:

  • spheno-occipital synchondrosis
  • sacrococcygeal regions
  • smaller scattered foci in the spine (especially C2 and lumbar spine)

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Article information

rID: 4562
Section: Anatomy
Tag: stub, cases, refs
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Chorda dorsalis
  • Notocord

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Cases and figures

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    Case 1: clival chordoma
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