Costovertebral joint

The costoverterbral joint is an articulation between the ribs and the vertebral column.

The ribs attach to the vertebra in two places:

  1. - through the joints of the head of the rib and the vertebral body.
  2. - through the rib's tubercle and the transverse process of the vertebra (costotransverse joint).

The head of a typical rib has two facets separated by a ridge.  The lower rib facet articulates with the upper costal facet of its own vertebra and the upper facet articulates with the lower facet of the vertebral body above.  Each facet is a separate synovial joint.  The first rib articulates with the T1 vertebra only and the lowest three ribs articulate only with their own vertebral body 1.

  • intra-articular ligament - attaches the intervertebral disc to the ridge in between the two facets of the head of the rib.
  • radiate ligament - there are three bands which connect the upper and lower rib to their respective vertebral body, and the central band which blends into the intervertebral disc to join the ligament on the opposite side.  In the first rib and the last three ribs, only two bands exist as they only articulate with their own vertebra.


There are two facets of a tubercle of a rib, the medial and lateral.  The medial facet forms a plane synovial joint with the tip of the transverse process which is reinforced by a capsule. The lateral facet is attached to the transverse process through three ligaments 2

  1. lateral costotransverse ligament - attaches the lateral facet to the tip of the transverse process of the vertebral body.
  2. costotransverse ligament - attaches the back of the neck of the rib to the front of the transverse process
  3. superior costotransverse ligaments - attaches the neck of the rib to the underside of the transverse process of the vertebra above

The lower two ribs are only attached by ligaments and do not form synovial joints with the transverse process.



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Article Information

rID: 50870
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:

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