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Dura Mater

The meninges are three layers of connective tissue that surround, support and protect the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). From superficial to deep these layers are named the dura, arachnoid and pia. The dura mater is a thick, tough, fibrous membrane. It receives blood and nerve supply from the meningeal arteries, veins and nerves.

In the cranium, the dura consists of two layers; an outer periosteal dura and an inner meningeal dura. The periosteal dura is closely attached to the internal surface of the skull bones while the inner meningeal dura is continuous with the dura of the spinal cord. The periosteal dura and meningeal dura are tightly fused together, except in a few places where they separate to form the dural venous sinuses; spaces that collect venous blood from the large veins of the brain. The dural venous sinuses are named as follows; superior sagittal sinus, inferior sagittal sinus, straight sinus, occipital sinus, transverse sinus, sigmoid sinus, marginal sinus, superior petrosal sinus, inferior petrosal sinus, petrosquamous sinus, cavernous sinus, sphenoparietal sinus, intercavernous sinus. The straight, occipital, transverse and superior sagittal sinuses all meet at the confluence of the sinuses. Arachnoid granulations, small tufts of arachnoid, protrude through the dura mater into the dural venous sinuses. They are the site of cerebrospinal fluid absorption into dural venous sinuses. Another feature of  cranial dura are the dural folds. These are reflections of the inner meningeal dura which divide the cranium into separate compartments. The four dural folds are the falx cerebri, tentorium cerebelli, falx cerebelli, diaphragma sellae, in brief they separate the cerebral and cerebellar hemispheres into divisions.

In the spinal cord, only one layer of dura mater is found. Unlike in the cranium, the dura is not closely integrated with the overlying bones. Instead, a space exists between the dura and the vertebral bones known as the epidural space. The inferior aspect of the spinal dural sac is anchored to the coccyx by a thin connective tissue strand called the filum terminale.

Terminology English: Dura
Latin: Dura
Synonym: Dura mater
Definition Dura is the thick outer most layer of the 3 meninges.
Function The thick fibrous dura surrounds, supports and protects the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).
In the cranium the dura forms folds to form partitions of the cranial cavity, and separates in places to form dural venous sinuses.
Dural folds - Falx cerebri: separates left and right cerebral hemispheres. Located in the longitudinal cerebral fissure

- Falx cerebelli: Separates the two cerebellar hemispheres

- Tentorium cerebelli: Separates the cerebrum from the cerebellum

- Diaphragma sellae: Forms a lid or roof over the hypophysial fossa of sphenoid, covering the pituitary gland.
Dural venous sinuses Superior sagittal sinus, inferior sagittal sinus, straight sinus, occipital sinus, transverse sinus, sigmoid sinus, marginal sinus, superior petrosal sinus, petrosquamous sinus, petrosquamous sinus, cavernous sinus, sphenoparietal sinus, intercavernous sinus

Learn more about the meninges of the brain with this study unit:

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