5.2: Vertebrae

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Body - Development of the vertebrae can be used in aging of individuals. In the first stage of development there are three separate portions, the two neural arches and the body. The neural arches fuse to each other first, around age 2-4 years of age. The body and neural arches later fuse at approximately 3-6 years of age. The body of a juvenile vertebra will exhibit billowing around the margins; these disappear as the end plates fuse to the body.

Foramen - Central hole through which the spinal cord passes.

Transverse foramina - Foramen on each of the transverse processes of the cervical vertebrae. Through these foramina the vertebral arteries pass.

Arches – Encloses the spinal column.

Spinous process – Posteriorly projecting aspect of the vertebra; attachment for muscles and ligaments that varies in size.

Superior articular facets & Inferior articular facets – Oval shaped facets located on the superior and inferior aspects of the posterior part of the vertebrae. As they articulate with each other, they are faced in opposite directions depending on their location in the spinal column.

 Characteristics Cervical (7) Thoracic (12) Lumbar (5) Body Shape Oval Round Heart Body Size Small Medium Large Vertebral Foramen Rounded Round Triangular Transverse Process Small Large Large and blunt Transverse Foramen Present Absent Absent Spinous Process 2-6 Bifid Long, projects inferiorly Thick and horizontal Articulating Facets Superior: face posterior Inferior: face anterior Superior: face posterior, flat Inferior: face anterior, flat Superior: face medially, curved Inferior: face laterally, curved Costal Facets None On body and transverse processes None

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