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A vertebra consists of two parts: an anterior segment, or the vertebral body; and a posterior part, or the vertebral (neural) arch.
Identify the parts of a vertebra
The vertebral processes can give the structure rigidity, help it articulate with ribs, or serve as muscle attachment points.
When the vertebrae are articulated with each other, their bodies form a strong pillar for the support of the head and trunk, and the vertebral foramina constitute a canal for the protection of the spinal cord.
Two transverse processes and one spinous process are posterior to the vertebral body.
Two superior and two inferior articular processes articulate with the adjoining vertebrae. They allow for a small degree of movement in the spine, but greatly strengthen it.In between every pair of vertebrae are two apertures, the intervertebral foramina, one on either side, for the transmission of the spinal nerves and vessels.
When articulated together the vertebrae
form a strong yet flexible structure that encloses the vertebral foramen, or
opening, where the spinal cord sits. It also provides a base for
numerous muscle attachments and articulations with other bones.
The strength and flexibility of this
structure is generated by the structure of the individual vertebrae. Comprised
of bone and cartilage, the configuration of a vertebra varies based on its
location within the body, although there are common features associated with
those of the upper region.
A typical vertebra of the upper region of
the spine consists of two regions:
The anterior vertebral body which is the
point of articulation between the vertebrae.
The posterior vertebral or
neural arch that encloses the spinal cord.
Located between each pair of vertebrae are
two laterally located openings:
The intervertebral foramina that facilitate
access to the spinal cord for nerves and vessels.
The vertebral arch is formed from two, short,
thick processes called pediments that extend posteriorly from the lateral
sides of the vertebral body, before joining together at the midline with the laminae.
There are seven processes that project
from a typical vertebra.
Four articular processes originate from the
joint between the pedicles and laminae, two point superiorly and two point
inferiorly. They interact with the zyhapophysis, a socket for the articular
processes, of the adjacent vertebrae to make the spine more stable and to facilitate a small degree of articulation.
A single spinous process projects backwards
and downwards from the center of the vertebral arch and it serves as a major
attachment point for muscles and ligaments of the back.
The two transverse processes project
laterally from the join between the pedicle and lamina and also serve as an
attachment point for muscles and ligaments of the back. The transverse processes articulate with the ribs in conjunction with the
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“Parts of a Vertebra.”
Boundless Anatomy and Physiology
Boundless, 05 Oct. 2016.
Retrieved 24 Mar. 2017 from