spinothalamic tractmedical dictionary

A large ascending fibre bundle in the ventral half of the lateral funiculus of the spinal cord, arising from cells in the posterior horn at all levels of the cord, which cross within their segments of origin in the white commissure. In their contralateral ascent, the bundle is intermingled with numerous intersegmental fibres. The spinothalamic tract continues from the spinal cord into the brainstem, occupying a ventrolateral position and issuing numerous fibres to the rhombencephalic and mesencephalic reticular formation, to the lateral part of the central gray substance of the mesencephalon, and to the deep and intermediate layers of the superior colliculus; the relatively few fibres (10 to 20%) that remain form the true spinothalamic tract which enters the diencephalon and ends in the nucleus ventralis posterior (caudal part) and intralaminar nuclei of the thalamus. In its ascent in the spinal cord the tract is composed of a dorsal part, the lateral spinothalamic tract, which conveys impulses associated with pain and temperature sensation, and a more ventral part, the anterior spinsothalamic tract, involved in tactile sensation.

Synonyms: lemniscus spinalis, spinal lemniscus, tractus spinothalamicus.

(05 Mar 2000)