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Vertebral canal

The spinal cord lies within a bony canal formed by adjacent vertebrae and soft tissue elements (the vertebral canal):

Within the vertebral canal, the spinal cord is surrounded by a series of three connective tissue membranes (the meninges):

 a. the pia mater is the innermost membrane and is intimately associated with the surface of the spinal cord;

 b. the second membrane, the arachnoid mater, is separated from the pia by the subarachnoid space, which contains cerebrospinal fluid;

 c. the thickest and most external of the membranes, the dura mater, lies directly against, but is not attached to, the arachnoid mater.

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