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(ver'te-bra) plural.vertebrae [L.]
Any of the 33 bony segments of the spinal column: 7 cervical, 12 thoracic, 5 lumbar, 5 sacral, and 4 coccygeal vertebrae. In adults, the five sacral vertebrae fuse to form a single bone, the sacrum, and the four rudimentary coccygeal vertebrae fuse to form the coccyx.

A typical vertebra consists of a ventral body and a dorsal or neural arch. In the thoracic region, the body bears on each side two costal pits for reception of the head of the rib. The arch that encloses the vertebral foramen is formed of two roots or pedicles and two laminae. The arch bears seven processes: a dorsal spinous process, two lateral transverse processes, and four articular processes (two superior and two inferior). A deep concavity, the inferior vertebral notch, on the inferior border of the arch provides a passageway for a spinal nerve. The successive vertebral foramina form the vertebral, or spinal, canal that encloses the spinal cord.

The bodies of successive vertebrae articulate with one another and are separated by intervertebral disks, disks of fibrous cartilage enclosing a central mass, the nucleus pulposus. The inferior articular processes articulate with the superior articular processes of the next succeeding vertebra in the caudal direction. Several ligaments (supraspinous, interspinous, anterior and posterior longitudinal, and the ligamenta flava) hold the vertebrae in position, yet permit a limited degree of movement. Motions of the vertebral column include forward bending (flexion), backward bending (extension), side bending (lateral flexion), and rotation. Lateral flexion and rotation motions are coupled so that whenever the vertebrae bend to the side, they also rotate and vice versa. See: sacrum for illus

basilar vertebra

The lowest of the lumbar vertebrae.

cervical vertebra

One of the seven vertebrae of the neck.

coccygeal vertebra

One of the rudimentary vertebrae of the coccyx.

vertebra dentata

The second cervical vertebra.

false vertebra

Fixed vertebra.

fixed vertebra

The sacral and coccygeal vertebrae that fuse to form the sacrum and coccyx.

lumbar vertebra

One of the five vertebrae between the thoracic vertebrae and the sacrum.

vertebra magna


odontoid vertebra

Axis (2).

vertebra prominens

The seventh cervical vertebra.

sacral vertebra

One of the five fused vertebrae forming the sacrum.
See: sacrum for illus

sternal vertebra

One of the segments of the sternum.

thoracic vertebra

One of the 12 vertebrae that connect the ribs and form part of the posterior wall of the thorax.
See: spinal column for illus

true vertebra

One of the vertebrae that remain unfused through life: the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar.
Medical Dictionary, © 2009 Farlex and Partners


Bones in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions of the body that make up the vertebral column. Vertebrae have a central foramen (hole), and their superposition makes up the vertebral canal that encloses the spinal cord.
Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The current study was carried out to determine significance in terms of clinical of the anatomical structures of cervical vertebrae in Turkish population
Intervertebral disc degeneration associated with lumbosacral transitional vertebrae: a clinical and anatomical study.
Then, angular measurements of the vertebral deviations with the vertical Y axis of each segment of two adjacent vertebrae from the upper limit vertebra to the apical vertebra, referred to as angles R1, R2, R3, etc., were performed.
Analytical and cross-sectional study was performed on 100 adult dry cervical vertebrae of unknown age and sex.
The relationship between NLC and vertebrae injury was investigated in group 2 patients.
During further observation of the class I vertebrae, it seemed that the groove for the vertebral artery varies in depth, which explains why we used Hasan's [30] classification for the detailed analysis.
The skeletal specimens in this report consisted of vertebrae from three adult males from two different geographical locales and time periods.
Over 70 tail vertebrae of both young and adult reptiles, as well as partial tail skeletal remains, were examined by the researchers.
The cohort of patients was divided into two subgroups based on their GOLD stage, the first with patients classified at GOLD stages I and II and the second with patients at GOLD stages III and IV; chi-square test was performed in order to measure any differences between DXA and QCT regarding overall lumbar vertebrae. Regarding chi-square test, Monte Carlo simulation was used" should be corrected to "The Cohen kappa statistic was used to access whether QCT and DXA agree or differ in their ability to detect normal, osteopenic, and osteoporotic patients.
In mammals, the vertebrate spinal column comprises a series of repeating bones called vertebrae, including the cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral, and caudal vertebrae.
The remarkable specimen, which includes nine skeletal elements from one individual, including the thoracic vertebrae and the femoral bones, is being heralded as the "best preserved hesperornithiform material from Asia" and to be "the first report of the hesperorinthiforms from the eastern margin of the Eurasian Continent."