Dura mater

The dura mater, also referred to as simply the dura, is one of three layers that make up the meninges, which is a membrane system that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

As the outermost layer of the three, the dura mater covers the arachnoid mater, which in turn covers the pia mater. Dura mater literally means “hard mother” or “tough mother” in Latin, because it is such a tough, inflexible layer of tissue.

Role of the dura mater

The three layers of the meninges reside between the skull and the brain, as well as between the spinal canal and the spinal cord. The primary role of the meninges is to nourish and protect the central nervous system from shock and damage.

While the dura mater surrounding the brain contains two layers, the spinal dura contains only one layer. It assists in a variety of roles, including:

  • Carrying blood from the brain back to the heart
  • Supporting the dural sinuses, or the channels found between the dura mater and the brain
  • Holding in cerebrospinal fluid and blood

The spinal dura mater also forms tubes, or sleeves, that envelop the nerve roots as they exit the spinal column. Any pressure or damage to the spinal dura can, in turn, affect the spinal nerve roots.

To exit the spinal column, nerve roots go through the foramina — or the open spaces between the vertebrae — and then the nerves travel to various areas in the body. As it passes through this opening, a spinal nerve root becomes particularly vulnerable to pressure if there is narrowing by a spinal condition such as a herniated disc or bone spur.

Treatment for spine issues

Once a physician has diagnosed you with an issue that’s causing pressure on your spinal nerve roots, an initial course of conservative treatment such as physical therapy, steroidal injections or pain medication is usually recommended. If these traditional treatments prove ineffective, surgery can become an option. Laser Spine Institute performs minimally invasive spine surgery that is an alternative to traditional open spine procedures along with the large incision and extended hospitalization they require.

Contact Laser Spine Institute for a no-cost MRI review* to see if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.