Vertebral Column

Usual disclaimer, all drawings are done by me, while I try to remain as accurate as possible, I am only a student. There are natural human variations and differences between textbooks. That being said, I hope my illustrations can be of some help.

There are 5 types of Vertebrae:

7 Cervical Vertebrae

12 Thoracic Vertebrae

5 Lumbar Vertebrae

5(ish) fused Sacral Vertebrae

3-5 fused Coccyx Vertebrae

Most of them are named according to number, i.e C3 or T7 or S1. C1 and C2, however, have their own names. C1 is referred to the Atlas (after the Greek titan forced to hold up the sky forever) and C2 is the Axis (on which the world turns.)

The best way to tell the two apart is the protrusion on the Axis, known as the dens.
Cervical Vertebrae are easiest to identify by their 3 foramen (holes). The two smaller foramen are for the vertebral artery and vein.
Thoracic vertebrae can be identified either by their facets where the ribs set, or by the way their lateral view looks like a giraffe.
Lumbar vertebrae are some of the heftiest vertebrae, and according to Dr. T, look like moose.
This is a section of a few vertebrae and the ligaments that help hold them together. One of the easiest of ID is the Ligamentum Flavum because of its yellowish color. Also because Flavum means yellow.

To help me study I’ve started to makes these images with blank arrows to fill out later. Here they are below to help practice:


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