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Meninges

There are three layers of meninges around the brain and spinal cord. The outer layer, the dura mater, is tough, white fibrous connective tissue. The middle layer of meninges is arachnoid, a thin layer resembling a cobweb with numerous threadlike strands attaching it to the innermost layer. The space under the arachnoid, the subarachnoid space, is filled with cerebrospinal fluid and contains blood vessels. The pia mater is the innermost layer of meninges. This thin, delicate membrane is tightly bound to the surface of the brain and spinal cord and cannot be dissected away without damaging the surface.

Meningiomas are tumors of the nerve tissue covering the brain and spinal cord. Although meningiomas are unlikely to spread, physicians often treat them as though they were malignant because symptoms may develop when a tumor applies pressure to the brain.

Illustration of the layers of meninges

For more information about anatomy of brain and CNS, go to the Nervous System section of the Anatomy & Physiology module on this Web site.