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C7 vertebra

Assoc Prof Craig Hacking and Dr Tim Luijkx et al.

The seventh cervical vertebra, C7, also known as the vertebra prominens, shares similar characteristics of the like typical cervical vertebra C3-C6, but has some distinct features making it one of the atypical vertebrae. The name vertebra prominens arises from its long spinous process, which is easily palpable. 

Gross anatomy

C7 possesses the standard cervical vertebral features but has some distinct features:

  • spinous process ends in a rounded tubercle and is not bifid
  • C7 transverse foramina are small, and do not transmit the vertebral artery
  • C7 anterior tubercle is small, and is the site of attachment for scalenus pleuralis and suprapleural membrane
  • C8 nerve, which does not have an associated cervical vertebra, exits in the C7-T1 vertebral foramen below C7

Variant anatomy

  • C7 may possess a cervical rib
  • C7 foramen may transmit the posterior vertebral vein (if doubled), and may transmit the grey ramus from the inferior cervical ganglion to the anterior ramus of C7
  • vertebral artery may enter at this level (usually it enters the cervical transverse foramen at C6)
Anatomy: Spine

Article information

rID: 30851
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • C7 vertebrae
  • Vertebra prominens
  • Seventh cervical vertebra

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: C7 (Gray's illustration)
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