Features of typical Cervical Vertebra

The cervical vertebra's most prominent feature is foramen transverarium – the bilateral opening within the transverse processes for the vertebral artery and vein passage. These openings are usually present in all cervical vertebra. Other peculiarities like the split tip of processus spinosus, raised edges of vertebral bodies (processus uncinatus), or thin and flat vertebral arch (lamina arcus vertebrae) may not be present at all levels.


Icon of crossfade image Markup for anterior view of the third cervical vertebra
Anterior view of cervical vertebra 3 Markup for anterior view of cervical vertebra 3
C3. The anterior aspect of this typical cervical vertebra demonstrates the elevated upper lateral edges of the vertebral body (processus uncinatus) that are believed to improve vertebral column stability 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.

  • Icon of crossfade image Markup for top view of the fourth cervical vertebra
    Top view of cervical vertebra 4 Markup for top view of cervical vertebra 4
    C4. The top aspect.
    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

    Icon of crossfade image Markup for iso view of third cervical vertebra
    Iso view of third cervical vertebra
    C3. The iso view demonstrating a particularly flat and thin part of the 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

    Icon of crossfade image Ventral view of the sixth cervical vertebra with the anatomical terminology markup
    Ventral view of the sixth cervical vertebra
    C6. The frontal aspect.
    This vertebra has one feature allowing to identify it among other typical cervical vertebrae (especially when all cervical vertebrae from one individual are available). This feature is the large tuberculum anterius of the processus transversus. 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.

    First published: Mar/2019
    Last update: 24/Nov/2020