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Latin meaning of vertebra
to turn or to twist
Suface of anterior and posterior vertebrae
1. anterior-smooth (vicinity of viscera)
2. posterior-rough and has a lot of processes
Functions of processes of vertebrae
Attachment of ligaments and muscles
Type of curve of spine (explain curve of each region)
Sinusoidal -
cervical & lumbar (anterior convexity)
thoracic & sacrak - (posterior convexity)
Type and number of vertebrae
1. Cervical - 7
2. Thoracic - 12
3. Lumbar - 5
4. Sacral - 5 that fuse into 1 with age
5, Coccyx - 4 that fuse into 1 as adult
Main Functions of the vertebral column
1. Protection of spinal corde and viscera
2. Improved Mobility from large amount of muscle attachments
3. Support for musculoskeletal structures
4. Stability and Integrity
5. Extremety attachments (direct & indirect)
Vertebra Prominens
Spinous process of C7 that is very prominent and easily palpable
Scapula and its location

What is it a good landmark for?
1. Shoulder blade: not attached directly to verterbral column but ~btwn T2 & T7
2. Intercostal space ~T4; located by palpating the scapula
Tuffier's Line and its location

What is it a good landmark for?
1. Line across L4-L5 junction
(Connects the tops of the iliac crests)
2. Identifies area to access cerebrospinal fluid and minimize risk of damaging spinal nerves
Progression of Curvature of Spine
1. At birth, C-shaped spine
2. Raise head, develop reverse cervical curve
3. As Walk, develop reverse lumbar curve
Factors that affect curvature of spine
1. Intervertebral discs have taller anterior side which causes tilt and cervical curve
2. Lumbar vertebrae also have takker anterior discs that cause curvature
What determines our height?
1. Vertebrae
2. Intervertebral Discs
What happens as we age?
1. Intervertebral Discs desiccate and diminish, causing us to shrink.
2. As this happens, secondary curvatures become less pronounced and we see a regression to a C shaped cuve.
Result if born with extra half of a vertebra
Exaggeration if the lumbar curvature (commonly seen in pregnant women)
Exaggeration of the thoracic curvature
Spina bifida
Neural tube defect marked by a congenital cleft of the spinal column (usually hernial protrusion of the meninges and sometimes the spinal cord
Thoracic Vertebra: Parts
1. Body
2. Pedicle
3. Vertebral Foramen
4. Lamina
5. Transverse Processes on each side
Zygapophysial Joint
1.Superior articulate processes of a vertebra articulate with the inferior articulate processes of the vertebra just above it
2. Synovial Joint, innervated by branches of dorsal rami
Cervical Vertebra:
1. Size
2. Distinguishing Factors
1. Smallest vertebrae
2. Bifid spinous processes
(tip of spinous process has 2 spicules)
3. Largest vertebral foramen (extra nerves to upper extremeties)
Uncinate Process
Lip of the lateral body that forms joints, which anchor the vertebrae together to provide more stability.
Vertebral Artery
1. Location
2. Supply
1. First branch of the Subclavian Artery
At 1st branch, it ascends and enters the transverse foramen of C6, runs up to C1 and enters the cranial cavity.
2. Left & Right combined = ~1/3 blood supply to brain
C1 vertebrae
1. No body (it migrated inferiorly and joined with C2)
2. No spinous process
3. Only anterior & posterior arches
4. Only anterior & posterior tubercles
1. C2 vertebrae
Craniocervical Joint
Motion between head and C1 occurs here
Superior Articulate Facet
Location (surface) that two convexities from the occipital bone will articulate
Atlanto-occipital Joint
Action if saying yes
(backwards/forwards flexion & extension) occurs at this Joint
1. AKA Odontoid process
2. formed by the fusion of the bodies of Atlas & Axis
3. Creates pivot so C1 can rotate around dens = "No" Motion
4. Articulates with the posterior surface of the anterior arch of C1
Vertebrae of Thoracic & Lumbar Regions
1. Become bulkier to support more weight
2. Spinous processes are less pointed (more hatchet shape)
Forward displacement of a lumbar vertebra on the one below it (Especially L5 onto S1 which compresses the nerve roots and causes pain

Median Sacral Crest
1. Means sacred in latin

2. Composed of remnants if superior articular processes & spinous processes
Sacral Hiatus
Canal created by the NON-fusion of S4 & S5 in the midline and are thus bifid
Anterior characteristics of Sacrum
1. Smooth since rectum sits there
2. Has widened wings (ALA) on lateral portions and contains rudimentary intervertebral discs
3. Articulates with the medial aspect of the coccyx
Fuction of the L5/S1 Juction
1. Servest to offset weight
2. Force brought down through junction, dispersed over ala, & routed to lower extremities
1. A hole through a single bone.
Intervertebral foramen
1. Artificial foramen since formed by two bones
2. Very Important b/c if it is too small it can pinch spinal nerves
Intervertebral stenosis
Common cause of pinched nerve, which can be caused by herniated disc or disc degeneration DEFINE
Anterior Longitudinal Ligament:
1. Location
2. Function
1. Runs from the sacrum to the base of the skull.
2. Prevents hyperextension of the vertebral column
Supraspinous ligaments:
1. Location
1. Runs along the most posterior aspect of the spinous processes. Between the spinous processes, it is referred to as the interspinous ligament,
Posterior Longitudinal Ligament:
1. Location
2. Function
1. Runs within the vertebral canal along the posterior aspect of the vertebral bodies.
2. Inhibits hyperflexion of the spine and disc herniation (disc herniation can only occur posterolaterally)
1. Tectorial Membrane

2. Cruciform & Alar
1. Articulation at the base of the skull where the PLL attaches.
2. Ligaments underneath the tectorial membrane that keep C1, C2, and occipital bones firmly in place
Ligamentum Flavum:
1. Location
2. Function
1. High concentration of elastic tissue & is located on the underside of the lamina,
2. Helps to restore hyperextended and hyperflexed spinal columns to neutral position
3. This ligament becomes the posterior atlanto-occipital membrane
4. Forms part of border in intervertebral foramen='pop' felt during lumbar punctures
Atlanto-occipital membrane
1. Vertebral artery passes through
2. Membrane has high incidence in Japanese if turning to bone and pinching the vertebral artery
Nuchal ligament
1. Composed of thickened fibroelastic tissue
2. Extends from the external occipital protuberance and posterior border of the foramen magnum to the spinous processes of the cervical vertebrae
3. Substitutes for muscular attachments due to shortness of C3-C5 spinous processes.
Intervertebral discs
1. Compose 1/4th our height
2. Composed of outer annulus fibrosis (cartilaginous part) and nucleus pulposus (central)
Annulus fibrosis

Nuleus Pulposus
1. Weaker posterolaterally

2. Can Bulge out and create hernia
Batson's plexus
1. Location
1. Elaborate venous system in vertebral foramen.
2. Composed of valve-less veins (blood moves according to body position)
3. Provides pathway from pelvis to brain (allows cancer to spread to head)
What supplies arterial blood to posterior vertebral column?
Aorta & vertebral column mostly
1. Attachments
2. Function
3. Innervation
1. Attached to base of skull and to spinous process T12
1b. Multiple Lateral attachments (clavicle.scapula)
2. Elevate, Retract, and depress scapula
3. Innervated by spinal accessory nerve (CN XI)
Latissimus Dorsi:
1. Attachments
2. Function
3. Innervation
1. Runs from lower half of thoracic vertebrae down to sacrum and ilium
1b. Extensive attachment to lumbodorsal fascua and ends at humerus
2. Used in adduction, internal rotation, & extension
3. Thoracodorsal Nerve (Branch of the Brachial plexus)
What does innervation of trapezius and latissimus dorsi mean?
The muscle originated near the head and neck and migrated to the back along with its nerve supply.
Serratus Posterior Inferior
1. Inferior to Latissimus Dorsi
2. Attaches to ribs and may help function in breathing
Triangle of Petit
1. Composition
Latissimus dorsi, iliac crest, external obliques
Triangle of auscultation
1. Composition
Trapezius, Latissimus dorsi, Rhomboid major

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