Features of typical Cervical Vertebra

The most prominent feature of cervical vertebra are two openings for vertebral artery and vein called foramen transverarium. They are usually present in all cervical vertebra. Other pecularities like splitted tip of processus spinosus, elevated edges of vertebral bodies (processus uncinatus), or thin and flat vertebral arch (lamina arcus vertebrae) may not be present at all levels.


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Anterior view of cervical vertebra 3 Markup for anterior view of cervical vertebra 3
C3. Anterior aspect of this typical cervical vertebra demonstrate elevated upper lateral edges of vertebral body (processus uncinatus) that are believed to improve the stability of vertebral column during excessive movements by limiting posterior translation and lateral bending*.
The list of terms: Corpus vertebrae – Body of vertebra
Uncus corporis vertebrae – Uncal process of cervical vertebra
Processus transversus – Transverse process
Processus articularis superior – Superior articular process (zygapophysis)
Processus articularis inferior – Incerior articular process (zygapophysis)
Arcus vertebrae – Vertebral arch
Processus spinosus – Spinous process

  • * White AA, Panjabi MM. Clinical biomechanics of the spine. ed 2. Philadelphia: Lippincott; 1990. p. 722.

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    Top view of cervical vertebra 4 Markup for top view of cervical vertebra 4
    C4. The top aspect shows splitted processus spinosus and two openings for vertebral artery and veins laterally from canalis vertebralis – the foramen transversarium.
    The list of terms: Corpus vertebrae – Body of vertebra
    Arcus vertebrae – Vertebral arch
    Foramen vertebrale – Vertebral foramen
    Uncus corporis – Uncal (hook-like) process
    Processus transversus – Transverse process
    Foramen transversarium – Transverse process
    Tuberculum anterius – Anterior tubercle
    Tuberculum posterius – Posterior tubercle
    Sulcus nervi spinalis – Groove for spinal nerve
    Processus articularis superior – Superior articular process
    Processus spinosus – Spinous process

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    Iso view of third cervical vertebra Markup for iso view of third cervical vertebra
    C3. Iso view demonstrating particularly flat and thin part of vertebral arch – the laimna arcus vertebrae.
    The list of terms: Tuberculum anterius – Anterior tubercle (of transverse process)
    Tuberculum posterius – Posterior tubercle (of transverse process)
    Sulcus nervi spinalis – Groove for spinal nerve
    Lamina arcus vertebrae – Lamina of vertebral arch

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    Ventral view of cervical vertebra 6 Markup for ventral view of cervical vertebra 6
    C6. The frontal aspect. This vertebra has one feature allowing to identify it among other typical cervical vertebra (especially when all cervical vertebrae from one individual are available). This feature is the large tuberculum anterius of the processus transversus. Topographically this tubercle usually projects in front of the common carotid artery that's why it is sometimes called tuberculum caroticum.
    The list of terms: Tuberculum anterius – Anterior tubercle
    Tuberculum posterius – Posterior tubercle

    5th cervical vertebra. 360° rotation.