Posterior ligamentous complex

Last revised by Dr Mostafa El-Feky on 10 Jan 2022

The posterior ligamentous complex acts to stabilize the vertebral column against flexion and rotation by holding the posterior elements of the neighboring vertebrae in fixed relation with each other. It is sometimes referred to as the posterior tension band although the latter also includes the bony posterior vertebral elements.

The posterior ligamentous complex comprises the following structures 3:

Some sources also include the cervical or thoracolumbar fascia 2,4.

Related pathology

See the separate article on posterior ligamentous complex injury. The importance of the posterior ligamentous complex/posterior tension band is highlighted in the most commonly used spinal fracture classifications systems: AO classification of subaxial cervical injuriesAO classification of thoracolumbar injuries, and the thoracolumbar injury classification and severity score (TLICS).

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: ligaments of the lumbar spine (Gray's illustration)
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  • Case 1: posterior ligamentous complex injury (T11-12)
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