Spinal anatomy

Spinal anatomy encompasses the anatomy of all osseous and soft tissue structures of the spine and its immediate surroundings. However, the structures related to the spinal cord are covered in our neuroanatomy section.


The spine is located in the midline posteriorly, extending from the base of the skull to natal cleft, supporting the head, shoulder girdle, rib cage, and attaching to the pelvis. 

It is composed of 24 vertebrae separated by intervertebral discs, with additional sacral and coccygeal segments which are usually but, variably, fused. The vertebrae are grouped together into groups based on similar osteology and regional relations; cervical spine (7 vertebrae), thoracic spine (12 vertebrae), and lumbar spine (5 vertebrae). The sacrum has five fused vertebral segments and the coccyx has a further 3 to 5 vertebral segments. 

Spinal anatomy
Share article

Article information

rID: 33451
System: Spine
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Spine anatomy
  • Anatomy of the spine
  • Vertebral column anatomy
  • Anatomy of the vertebral column

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and figures

  • Drag
    Case 1: normal MRI
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

    Alert accept

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

    Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.