Ligamentum flavum

Dr Craig Hacking and Dr Aaron Wong et al.

The ligamentum flava are paired ligaments which runs between adjacent laminae of the vertebral bodies and are present from C2/3 to the sacrum. Above the C2/3 level the equivalent structures are known as the posterior atlanto-occipital membrane between the base of skull and C1 and posterior atlantoaxial membrane between C1 and C2. The ligamentum flava form part of the posterior ligamentous complex of the vertebral column.

  • paired, yellowish, elastic ligament
  • forms part of the posterior border of the spinal canal
  • relatively thin in the cervical spine to progressively become thickest in the lumbar spine
  • broad base along the lamina from the facet joints to base of the spinous process
  • attaches from the front of the upper lamina to the back of the lower lamina
  • in the lumbar region, it runs laterally, covering the anterior aspect of the facet joints
  • anterolateral: intervertebral foramen and contents (spinal nerve roots, segmental arteries, recurrent meningeal nerves, communicating veins between internal and external venous plexus)
  • anteromedial: spinal cord and meninges
  • posterolateral: lamina, facet joints
  • posteromedial: spinous process, interspinous ligament, venous connection between internal and external vertebral venous plexuses
  • superficial: medial branch of dorsal roots of spinal nerves
  • deep: sinuvertebral nerves (recurrent meningeal nerves)

'Flavum' is Latin for 'yellow', referring to the colour of the ligament.

Anatomy: Spine
Share article

Article information

rID: 36588
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Ligamentum flavum (LF)
  • Ligamenta flava

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and figures

  • Drag
    Figure 1
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.
    Loadinganimation

    Alert accept

    Error Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

    Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.