Spinal anatomy

Last revised by Jeremy Jones on 3 Apr 2023

Spinal anatomy encompasses the anatomy of all osseous and soft tissue structures of the spine, the spinal cord and its supporting structures.

This anatomy section promotes the use of the Terminologia Anatomica, the international standard of anatomical nomenclature. 


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

It comprises 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:

The spinal cord descends in the vertebrae within the spinal canal.

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