Features common to vertebrae
The opening where the spinal cord passes through the vertebra is known as the vertebral foramen. The body of the vertebra is the weight-bearing part of the vertebra and the spinous process is the part that extends posteriorly. This process is an extension from the vertebral arch that curves from the body enclosing the vertebral foramen. This arch is composed of the two pedicles and the two laminae. The superior articular process and the superior articular facet (the flat surface on the process) are the parts that join with the vertebra above. The inferior articular process and the inferior articular facet are the parts of the vertebra that join with the vertebra below.
Typical cervical vertebrae superior and lateral view
Cervical vertebrae are distinct from all other vertebrae by having two transverse foramina. These house blood vessels. Another characteristic of the cervical vertebrae is that several of them have a bifid spinous process
Typical thoracic vertebrae superior and lateral view
The thoracic vertebrae typically have longer spinous processes than cervical vertebrae and many of them point in an inferior direction. The body is larger in thoracic vertebrae, and they are the only bones with costal facets that are attachment points for the heads of ribs. The transverse processes can be seen along with the transverse costal facets.
The lumbar vertebrae have larger bodies because they support more weight. The spinous process is shorter and more horizontal in lumbar vertebrae than in thoracic vertebrae. There are no costal facets and no transverse foramina. Label the parts of the vertebrae illustrated and color them in.
Answer Key: a. Bifid spinous process, b. Spinous process, c. Vertebral foramen, d. Lamina, e. Pedicle, f. Superior articular process, g. Transverse process, h. Body, i. Inferior articular process, j. Transverse foramen, k. Superior costal facet, I. Inferior costal facet
The terminal portion of the vertebral column consists of two structures that are fused bones. The sacrum is 5 fused vertebrae and the coccyx is 3-5 fused vertebrae. The top rim of the sacrum is the sacral promontory and the wing-like expansion where the ilium attaches is the ala. The area where the vertebrae join are the transverse lines. The holes running down each side are the anterior sacral foramina. At the top of the sacrum are the superior articular processes and they attach to the lumbar vertebra. Label and color the parts of the sacrum and the coccyx.
Sacrum and coccyx, posterior view
From the posterior view the median sacral crest is the fused remains of the spinous processes of the vertebrae. The posterior sacral foramina are on each side of the crest and the lateral sacral crests are lateral to the foramina. The superior articular processes can be seen from this view and also the auricular surface which forms part of the sacroiliac joint. Label the features of the sacrum and the coccyx and color them in.
Answer Key: a. Superior articular process, b. Ala, c. Sacral promontory, d. Transverse lines, e. Anterior sacral foramina, f. Coccyx, g. Auricular surface, h. Lateral sacral crest, i. Median sacral crest, j. Posterior sacral foramina
The sternum is commonly known as the breastbone and is divided into three areas, the upper manubrium with the suprasternal notch and the clavicular notches, the body with the costal notches (where the ribs attach), and the xiphoid process. Between the manubrium and the body is the sternal angle. Label these features on the illustration and color the three major areas of the sternum different colors.
If you select a rib as a representative bone for all of the ribs, you will find the terminal portion of the rib is expanded in a head. The constricted region below that is the neck. The tubercle of the rib is a bump that attaches to the transverse process of the vertebra. The bend in the rib is known as the angle and the depressed area of the rib where nerves and blood vessels are found is the costal groove. Color in the individual parts of a rib after you label the figure and color the rib as it joins with a vertebra.
Answer Key: a. Suprasternal notch, b. Clavicular notch, c. Manubrium, d. Sternal angle, e. Costal notches, f. Body, g. Xiphoid process, h. Head, i. Tubercle, j. Neck, k. Angle of rib, I. Costal groove
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