Radiopaedia 2021 UPDATE Conference-only registration is now closed. Late registration for All-Access Pass and Free Country Pass holders ends this Friday - LEARN MORE

Spinal anatomy

Assoc Prof Craig Hacking and Dr Tim Luijkx et al.

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 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. 

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

Anatomy: Spine
Anatomy: General
Anatomy: Radiological

The anatomy section is organized into seven expandable chapters based on regional body systems:

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

ADVERTISEMENT: Supporters see fewer/no ads

Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: lateral spine anatomy (Gray's illustration)
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 1: normal MRI
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

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

     Thank you for updating your details.