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Lumbar Vertebrae Anatomy

Introduction to Lumbar Vertebrae Anatomy:

  • The image descriptionlumbar vertebrae (vertebrae lumbales) (L1 – L5) are located in the lower back and are discernibly larger and stronger than the cervical or thoracic vertebrae.
The lumbar vertebrae
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Anatomical characteristics of the lumbar vertebrae
  • The bodies of the lumbar vertebrae are massive, sturdy, and designed to withstand vertical compression.
  • The spinous processes are broad and thick so stabilizing muscles can attach.
  • The superior articular facets face inward (medially) and the inferior articular facets face outward (laterally).
  • This arrangement permits flexion and extension movements but limits rotation.

Markings of the Lumbar Vertebrae:

  1. The image descriptionbody or centrum (Corpus vertebrae) is a large, sturdy, cylindrical mass on the anterior side of the vertebra. It articulates with the vertebral bodies above and below and is designed to withstand vertical compression. [image descriptionsuperior view/image descriptionLateral view]
lumbar vertebra - superior view
lumbar vertebra - body - superior view
lumbar vertebra - lateral view
lumbar vertebra - body - lateral view
Body of the lumbar vertebra - Superior and lateral views
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  1. The image descriptionvertebral or spinal foramen (Foramen vertebrale) is a large, triangular-shaped opening located posterior to the body. The spinal cord and several nerves pass through the foramen.
lumbar vertebra - superior view
lumbar vertebra - vertebral foramen - superior view
Vertebral foramen of a lumbar vertebra - Superior view
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  1. The image descriptionvertebral or neural arch (Arcus vertebrae) is formed by the two pedicles, two laminae, and spinous process. The arch encloses the posterior portion of the vertebral foramen.
lumbar vertebra - superior view
lumbar vertebra - vertebral arch - superior view
Vertebral notch of a lumbar vertebra - Superior view
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  1. image descriptionPedicles of the vertebral arch (Pediculus arcus vertebrae) are posterior extensions from the lateral sides of the body. The two pedicles form the base of the vertebral arch (L., pediculus, a little foot; stalk). [image descriptionSuperior view/image descriptionLateral view]
lumbar vertebra - superior view
lumbar vertebra - pedicle - superior view
lumbar vertebra - lateral view
lumbar vertebra - pedicle - lateral view
Pedicles of the lumbar vertebra - Superior and lateral views
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  1. image descriptionLaminae of the vertebral arch (Lamina archus vertebrae) are plates of bone that extend from the pedicles. The left and right laminae and the spinal process form the dorsal portion of the vertebral arch.
lumbar vertebra - superior view
lumbar vertebra - lamina - superior view
Lamina of a lumbar vertebra - Superior view
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  1. The image descriptionspinous process (Processus spinosus) is a posterior projection from the junction of the two laminae. Its thick, broad, quadrilateral shape serves as an attachment point for ligaments and muscles that stabilize the back. [image descriptionSuperior view/image descriptionLateral view]
lumbar vertebra - superior view
lumbar vertebra - spinous process - superior view
lumbar vertebra - lateral view
lumbar vertebra - spinous process - lateral view
Spinous process of the lumbar vertebra - Superior and lateral view
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  1. The image descriptiontransverse process (Processus transversus) is a long, thin, lateroposterior projection that originates near the junction of the pedicle, lamina, and superior articular process. It also serves as an attachment point for back muscles. [image descriptionSuperior view/image descriptionLateral view]
lumbar vertebra - superior view
lumbar vertebra - transverse process - superior view
lumbar vertebra - lateral view
lumbar vertebra - transverse process - lateral view
Transverse processes of the lumbar vertebra - Superior and lateral views
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  1. The image descriptionsuperior articular process (Processus articularis superior) is a superior projection near the junction of the pedicle and transverse process. The facet is concave, faces inward (medially), and articulates with the inferior articular facet on the vertebra above. [image descriptionSuperior view/image descriptionLateral view]
lumbar vertebra - superior view
lumbar vertebra - superior articular process - superior view
lumbar vertebra - lateral view
lumbar vertebra - inferior articular process - lateral view
Articular processes of the lumbar vertebra - Superior and lateral view of the t
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  1. The image descriptioninferior articular process (Processus articularis inferior) is an inferior projection from the juntion of the pedicle and lamina. The facet is convex, faces outward (laterally), and articulates with the superior articular facet on the vertebra below. [image descriptionLateral view]
lumbar vertebra - lateral view
lumbar vertebra - inferior articular process - lateral view
Inferior articular process - Lateral view
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  1.  The image descriptionintervertebral disc (Disci intervertebrales) is a thick pad of connective tissue that helps hold adjacent vertebrae together and acts as a shock absorber. It consists of an outer layer of fibrocartilage and an inner layer of gel-like substance called the nucleus pulposus.
lumbar vertebrae - articulated view
lumbar vertebrae - intervertebral disc - articulated view
Intervertebral disc - Lateral view
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  1. The image descriptionsuperior vertebral notch (Incisor vertebralis superior) is a slight indentation on the superior surface of the pedicle.
lumbar vertebrae - articulated view
lumbar vertebrae - superior vertebral notch - articulated view
Superior vertebral notch - Lateral view
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  1. The image descriptioninferior vertebral notch (Incisor vertebralis inferior) is a larger indentation on the surface of the pedicle.
lumbar vertebrae - articulated view
lumbar vertebrae - inferior vertebral notch - articulated view
Inferior vertebral notch - Lateral view
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  1. The image descriptionintervertebral foramen (Foramina intervertebralia) is a large, lateral opeing formed by the notches of two articulating vertebrae.
lumbar vertebrae - articulated view
lumbar vertebrae - intervertebral foramen - articulated view
Intervertebral foramen - Lateral view
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  1. A image descriptionspinal nerve and its nerve roots pass through each intervertebral foramen (neural foramen or lateral foramen).
lumbar vertebrae - articulated view
lumbar vertebrae - spinal nerve- articulated view
lumbar vertebrae - spinal nerve - articulated view
Spinal nerve passing through the intervertebral foramen
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Test yourself:

Superior view [image descriptionShow/image descriptionHide answers]

lumbar vertebra - superior view - test yourself
lumbar vertebra - superior view - test yourself - answers
Lumbar vertebra - Superior view
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Test yourself:

Lateral view [image descriptionShow/image descriptionHide answers]

lumbar vertebra - lateral view - test yourself
lumbar vertebra - lateral view - test yourself - answers
Lumbar vertebra - Lateral view
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Test yourself:

Articulated view [image descriptionShow/image descriptionHide answers]

lumbar vertebra - articulated view - test yourself
lumbar vertebra - articulated view - test yourself - answers
Articulated lumbar vertebrae - Lateral view
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