Cervical Vertebrae (Viva)

Q.1 What are the differences between cervical, thoracic and lumbar vertebrae?

  Cervical Thoracic Lumbar
Present Absent Absent 
Costal facet Absent Present Absent
Vertebral body Oval Triangular Oval
Increase in size from
above downwards
Upper and lower surfaces
of vertebral body
Concave Flat  Flat 
Vertebral foramen Triangular & large Small & circular Triangular
Pedicles Long, directed backward and laterally Directly backward and laterally Thick and short, backward directed 
Spinous process Short and bifid Long and project downward Large quadrangular and almost horizontal
Lamina Long transversely & narrow vertically Short transversely, Broad vertically and overlap Short, and Broad but  do not overlap
Transverse process Short Large with  blunt ends Small with tapering ends
Facets Flat Flat Vertical
– Superior facet Backward, and upwards Backward slightly upwards and laterally Backward & medially, has  mamillary process
– Inferior facet Forward and downward Forward, slightly downward and medially Forward & laterally 
– Articular pillan Present Absent Absent


Q.2 What is the structure of the intervertebral disc?

Each disc is made up of:

  • Annulus fibrosus: Outer part
    Superficial part is made up of collagen fibers and deeper part by fibrocartilage.

  • Nucleus pulposus: Inner part
    In young, it is soft and gelatinous but is gradually replaced by fibrocartilage.
    It is a remnant of the notochord.

Q.3 What are variations in the thickness and shape of intervertebral discs in different parts of the vertebral column.

  • The discs are thinnest in the upper thoracic region and thickest in the lower lumbar region.
  • In the cervical and lumbar regions, discs are thicker in front than behind in the thoracic region discs are flat.

Q.4 What are the functions of the intervertebral disc?

  • They transmit weight.
  • Act as shock absorbers.
  • Provide resilience to spine.
  • Constitute one-fifth of the length of the vertebral column.
  • Contribute to the formation of curves of the spine.

Q.5 Which ligament of the spine is made up of elastic tissue?

Ligamentum flavum

Q.6 Which movements are possible in the thoracic spine?

Greater in the lower thoracic region as compared to the upper thoracic region.

Q.7 What type of joint is formed between vertebral articular processes?

Synovial joints

Q.8 Name the structures transmitted by foramen transversarium?

  • Vertebral artery,
  • Vertebral vein and
  • Branch from inferior cervical ganglion.
  • In C7 vertebra, transmits only accessory vertebral vein.

Q.9 Name the structures attached to the anterior tubercle?

 Origin of:

  • Scalenus anterior,
  • Longus capitis and
  • Oblique part of longus colli.

Q.10 What muscles are arising from the posterior tubercle.

  • Scalenus medius
  • Scalenus posterior
  • Levator scapulae
  • Splenius cervicis
  • Longissimus cervicis
  • Iliocostalis cervicis

Q.11 Name the muscles arising from the spine.

  • Interspinalis
  • Semispinalis thoracis
  • Semispinalis cervicis
  • Spinalis cervicis
  • Multifidus.

Q.12 How will you identify Atlas [C1 vertebra]?

  • Ring-shaped
  • No body
  • No spine

Q.13 Name the ligaments attached to Atlas.

  • Anterior longitudinal ligament: Anterior tubercle
  • Ligamentum nuchae: Posterior tubercle tip
  • Ligamentum flavum: Lower border of the posterior arch
  • Transverse ligament: Medial surface of lateral mass.

Q.14 Name the structures related to the groove on the superior surface over the posterior arch of the atlas.

  • Vertebral artery
  • Vertebral vein plexus
  • Plexus of sympathetic nerve fibers
  • First cervical nerve.

Q.15 Name the structures passing through the spinal canal of the atlas.

  • Spinal cord,
  • Meninges,
  • Spinal part of accessory nerve
  • Anterior and posterior spinal arteries.

Q.16 Name the ligaments attached to the posterior surface of the body of the axis.

  • Posterior longitudinal ligament
  • Membrana tectoria
  • Vertical limb of the cruciate ligament.

Q.17 What is the clinical importance of the C7 vertebra?

 Spine of C7 can be felt through the skin because it is long, thick, and horizontal (C7 is also known as vertebra prominens). So, it serves as an important anatomical landmark.