comprise the bony axis of the
neck. These are the smallest of the vertebrae, but their bone
tissues are denser than those in any other region of the ver-
The transverse processes of the cervical vertebrae are
distinctive because they have
sageways for arteries leading to the brain. Also, the spinous
processes of the second through the sixth cervical vertebrae
are uniquely forked (biF
d). These processes provide attach-
ments for muscles.
The spinous process of the seventh vertebra is longer
and protrudes beyond the other cervical spines. It is called
and because it can be felt through
the skin, it is a useful landmark for locating other vertebral
parts (see F
roughened upper and lower surfaces of the vertebral bodies.
These discs cushion and soften the forces caused by such
movements as walking and jumping, which might otherwise
fracture vertebrae or jar the brain. The bodies of adjacent
vertebrae are joined on their anterior surfaces by
and on their posterior surfaces by
posterior longitudinal ligaments.
Projecting posteriorly from each vertebral body are two
short stalks called
lz). They form the sides of
Two plates called
arise from the pedicles and fuse in the back to become a
The pedicles, laminae, and spinous process
together complete a bony
around the vertebral
foramen, through which the spinal cord passes.
Between the pedicles and laminae of a typical vertebra
which projects laterally and posteri-
orly. Various ligaments and muscles are attached to the dor-
sal spinous process and the transverse processes. Projecting
upward and downward from each vertebral arch are
inferior articulating processes.
These processes bear car-
tilage-covered facets by which each vertebra is joined to the
one above and the one below.
On the lower surfaces of the vertebral pedicles are
notches that align with adjacent vertebrae to help form
ı˘-nah). These openings provide passageways for spi-
Superior articular process
Facet for tubercle of rib
tubercle of rib
Typical thoracic vertebra. (
) Right lateral view. (
) Adjacent vertebrae join at their articular processes. (
) Superior view.
Gymnasts, high jumpers, pole vaulters, and other athletes who
hyperextend and rotate their vertebral columns and stress them with
impact sometimes fracture the portion of the vertebra between the
superior and inferior articulating processes (the pars interarticularis).
Such damage to the vertebra is called spondylolysis, and it is most
common at L5.