Few detailed studies of synovial folds of cervical facet joints exist at the moment. This study was performed to provide anatomical data for each synovial fold in the cervical facet joints, using 20 cervical spines from C2 to C7 for dissection. Anatomic evaluation of the synovial folds included the gross morphology, in three dimensions, and the histology. Also, degenerative changes of the lower facet surface on which synovial folds occurred were evaluated. On the basis of gross morphology and histological composition, three types of synovial folds were identified. Type-1 synovial folds, shaped like a crescent, consisted principally of adipose tissue. Type-2 synovial folds had an apical region made up of dense fibrous tissue, with the base and middle region consisting of adipose tissue. In type-2 folds, the size and shape varied, including some elliptic-shaped synovial folds projecting well into the joint cavity. Type-3 synovial folds were thin with ragged free borders, and were formed exclusively of fibrous tissue. This study shows the variable appearance of synovial folds. Speculation was raised that the articular facet impingement of a large synovial fold and the subluxation of a smaller structure may play a possible role in the pathology of some disorders of the neck.
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