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Cervical vertebrae

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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The 7 cervical vertebrae are termed C1 to C7. With the exceptions of anomalies in C1, C2 and C7, they are characterised by:

  • formation of the bony framework of the neck
  • relatively small compared to other vertebrae
  • body:
    • relatively small and kidney shaped
    • superior and inferior surface both slightly lipped at lateral margins
    • uncovertebral joints at margins of body
  • pedicles pass dorsolaterally
  • vertebral foramen triangular in shape and relatively large
  • laminae relatively long and narrow
  • spinous process short and bifid
  • tranverse processes:
    • broad
    • arises from junction of body and pedicle
    • divided into anterior and posterior tubercles joined by costotransverse lamella; region bounded is the foramen transversarium
    • costotransverse lamella has groove on its superior surface for ventral ramus of spinal nerve
    • the rib component of cervical vertebrae is represented by anterior root and tubercle, intertubercular lamella and anterior part of posterior tubercle
  • at junction of pedicle and lamina is articular mass:
    • superior and inferior articular processes project from mass
    • superior articular surface faces superiorly and posteriorly
    • inferior articular surface faces inferiorly and anteriorly
    • the slope of the facet surface becomes less horizontal with descent down the cervical spine

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