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Thoracic Vertebrae (T2 – T8)

Introduction to the Thoracic Vertebrae:

The twelve image descriptionthoracic vertebrae make up the middle portion of the vertebral column. Above are the cervical vertebrae and below are the lumbar, sacral, and coccygeal vertebrae.

Posterior view of the vertebral column and rib cage
Posterior view of the vertebral column and rib cage with the thoracic vertebrae highlighted in green and labelled
Posterior view of the thoracic vertebrae.
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Each thoracic vertebra image descriptionarticulates with a pair of ribs at facets (or small depressions) on the vertebral bodies and transverse processes (except at T11 and T12).

A thoracic vertebra articulating with a pair or ribs animation slide 1
A thoracic vertebra articulating with a pair or ribs animation slide 2
A thoracic vertebra articulating with a pair or ribs animation slide 3
A thoracic vertebra articulating with a pair or ribs animation slide 4
A thoracic vertebra articulating with a pair or ribs animation slide 5
The thoracic vertebra articulating with a pair of ribs.

Most of the thoracic vertebrae share various image descriptionanatomical characteristics.

The anatomical characteristics of a thoracic vertebra animation slide 1
The anatomical characteristics of a thoracic vertebra animation slide 2
The anatomical characteristics of a thoracic vertebra animation slide 3
The anatomical characteristics of a thoracic vertebra animation slide 4
The anatomical characteristics of a thoracic vertebra animation slide 5
The posterior, superior, and lateral views of a thoracic vertebra.

However, T1 somewhat resembles the last cervical vertebra (C7) and T9 – T12 progressively look more like the lumbar vertebrae.

Bone Markings:

  1. image descriptionBody or centrum (corpus vertebrae) is a cylindrical mass on the anterior side of the vertebra. It articulates with vertebral bodies (or centrums) above and below.
Superior and lateral views of a thoracic vertebra
Superior and lateral views of the body of a thoracic vertebra
Superior and lateral views of the body of a vertebra.
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  1. image descriptionVertebral foramen or spinal foramen (foramen vertebrale) is a large opening in the centre of the bone that forms a passageway for the spinal cord.
Superior and lateral views of a thoracic vertebra
Superior and lateral view of the vertebral foramen
Superior view of the vertebral foramen.
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  1. image descriptionVertebral arch or neural arch (arcus vertebrae) is made up of two pedicles, two laminae, and a spinous process. The arch encloses the posterior vertebral foramen and protects the spinal cord.
Superior view of the vertebral arch animation slide 1
Superior view of the vertebral arch animation slide 2
Superior view of the vertebral arch animation slide 3
Superior view of the vertebral arch animation slide 4
Superior view of the vertebral arch animation slide 5
Superior view of the vertebral arch animation slide 6
Superior view of the vertebral arch animation slide 7
Superior view of the vertebral arch animation slide 8
Superior view of the vertebral arch animation slide 9
Superior view of the vertebral arch of a vertebra.
  1. image descriptionPedicle of the vertebral arch (pediculus arcus vertebrae) is a posterior extension from the lateral side of the body. The two pedicles form the base of the vertebral arch (L., pediculus, a little foot stalk).
Superior and lateral views of a thoracic vertebra
Superior and lateral view of the pedicle of a thoracic vertebra
Superior and lateral views of the pedicle of a thoracic vertebra.
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  1. image descriptionLamina of the vertebral arch (lamina arcus vertebrae) a plate of bone that extends from the pedicle. The two laminae form the dorsal portions of the vertebral arch.
Superior and lateral views of a thoracic vertebra
Superior and lateral view of the lamina of a thoracic vertebra
Superior and lateral view of the lamina of a thoracic vertebra.
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  1. image descriptionSpinous process (processus spinous) is a downward posterior projection from the junction of the two laminae. It is long and narrow and has an expanded (tuberculated) tip. Ligaments and muscles that move the vertebral column.
Superior and lateral views of a thoracic vertebra
Superior and lateral view of the spinous process of a thoracic vertebra
Superior and lateral view of the spinous process of a thoracic vertebra.
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  1. image descriptionTransverse process (processus transversus) is a thick, elongated projection that extends lateroposteriorly from the junction of the pedicle and lamina. It serves as an attachment point for several back muscles.
Superior and lateral views of a thoracic vertebra
Superior and lateral view of the transverse process of a thoracic vertebra
Superior and lateral view of the transverse process of a thoracic vertebra.
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  1. image descriptionSuperior articular process (processus articularis superior) is the superior projection near the junction of the pedicle and lamina. The associated facet is flattened, faces backward, and articulates with the inferior articular facet on the vertebra above.
Superior and lateral views of a thoracic vertebra
Superior and lateral view of the superior articular process of a thoracic vertebra
Superior and lateral views of the superior articular process of a thoracic vertebra.
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  1. image descriptionInferior articular process (processus articularis inferior) is an inferior projection from the anterior surface of the lamina. The associated facet is flattened, faces forward, and articulates with the superior articular facet on the vertebra below.
Superior and lateral views of a thoracic vertebra
Lateral view of the inferior articular process of a thoracic vertebra
Lateral view of the inferior articular process of a thoracic vertebra.
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  1. image descriptionSuperior costal facet or superior costal fovea (fovea costalis superior) is a depression on the superiolateral surface of the vertebral body, posterior to the pedicle. The superior costal facet is a demifacet or partial facet. It aligns with the inferior costal facet on the vertebra above to form a complete facet for articulation with the head of a rib.
Articulated view of the thoracic vertebrae
Articulated view of the superior costal facet of the thoracic vertebrae
Articulated view of the superior costal facet of a thoracic vertebra.
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  1. image descriptionInferior costal facet or inferior costal fovea (fovea costalis inferior) is a depression on the inferiolateral surface of the vertebral body, anterior to the inferior vertebral notch. It is a demifacet that aligns with the superior costal facet on the vertebra above to form a complete facet for articulation with the head of a rib.
Articulated view of the thoracic vertebrae
Articulated view of the inferior costal facet of the thoracic vertebrae
Articulated view of the inferior costal facet of a thoracic vertebrae.
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  1. image descriptionIntervertebral disc (disci intervertebrales) is a thick pad of connective tissues 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 pulposes.
Articulated view of the thoracic vertebrae
Articulated view of the intervertebral disc of the thoracic vertebrae
Articulated view of the intervertebral disc between the thoracic vertebrae.
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  1. image descriptionSuperior vertebral notch (incisor vertebralis superior) is a slight indentation on the superior surface of the pedicle.
Articulated view of the thoracic vertebrae
Articulated view of the superior vertebral notch of the thoracic vertebrae
Articulated view of the superior vertebral notch of the thoracic vertebrae.
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  1. image descriptionInferior vertebral notch (incisor vertebralis superior) is a slight indentation on the inferior surface of the pedicle.
Articulated view of the thoracic vertebrae
Articulated view of the inferior vertebral notch of the thoracic vertebrae
Articulated view of the inferior vertebral notch of the thoracic vertebrae.
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  1. image descriptionIntervertebral foramen (foramina intervertebrale) is a large lateral opening located between two adjacent vertebrae.
Articulated view of the thoracic vertebrae
Articulated view of the intervertebral foramen of the thoracic vertebrae
Articulated view of the intervertebral foramen of the thoracic vertebrae.
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The opening is formed by the inferior vertebral notch on the vertebra above and the superior vertebral notch on the vertebra below. The opening, which is also called the neural foramen or lateral foramen, serves as a image descriptionpassageway for a spinal nerve and a pair of nerve roots.

Spinal nerves passing through the lateral foramen of the thoracic vertebrae
Labelled image of the spinal nerves passing through the lateral foramen of the thoracic vertebrae
Articulated view of the spinal nerves passing through the intervertebral foramen.
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Test yourself:

Superior view of the thoracic vertebrae: [image descriptionShow/image descriptionHide answers]

Test yourself image for the superior view of a thoracic vertebra with answers hidden
Test yourself image for the superior view of a thoracic vertebra with answers shown; body, pedicle, vertebral foramen, transverse process, spinous process, superior articular process, lamina
Review the superior view of a thoracic vertebra and test yourself.
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Test yourself:

Lateral view of the thoracic vertebrae: [image descriptionShow/image descriptionHide answers]

Test yourself image for the lateral view of a thoracic vertebra with answers hidden
Test yourself image for the lateral view of a thoracic vertebra with answers shown; transverse process, pedicle, inferior articular process, spinous process, superior articular facet, superior costal facet, body, inferior costal facet
Review the lateral view of a thoracic vertebra and test yourself.
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Test yourself:

Articulated view of the thoracic vertebrae: [image descriptionShow/image descriptionHide answers]

Test yourself image for the articulated view of the thoracic vertebrae with answers hidden
Test yourself image for the articulated view of the thoracic vertebrae with answers shown; Inferior vertebral column, Intervertebral notch, superior vertebral notch, superior costal facet, intervertebral disc, inferior costal facet
Review the articulated view of the thoracic vertebrae and test yourself.
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