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The structure of each vertebral type (i.e. cervical, thoracic and lumbar) depends on the function which each serves.


Vertebral body

  • Mostly cancellous bone surrounded by a shell of cortical bone.
  • The vertebral bodies account for three quarters of the height of the spinal column, the remaining one quarter is provided by the intrevertebral discs.
  • Gives strength to the vertebral column and supports body weight.
  • From 4th thoracic vertebrae downwards they become larger in size and therefore able to withstand greater load.


Neural Arch

The neural arch forms the posterior part of the vertebrae and they are divided into two components:

  • Pedicles - the notches formed below the pedicals of two adjacent vertebrae form intervertebral foramen, through which the respective nerve roots exit.
  • Lamina – flat plates of bone that connect with the pedicles to form the neural arch.


Articular masses

Transverse processes

  • Project posteriolateral from the neural arch.


Spinous process


Facet Joints

  • Joints between the articular facets of the superior articular processes of one vertebra and the articular facets of the inferior articular processes of the vertebra below.
  • Synovial articulations.
  • Simple capsule that blends with the ligamentum flavum.