Thoracic spine

The thoracic spine forms the middle part of the vertebral column. It extends from below C7 on the cervical spine to above L1 on the lumbar spine. There are 12 thoracic vertebra. 

The thoracic spine is unique due to its articulation with ribs via costal facets. The ribs restrict the movement of the thoracic spine somewhat. The thoracic spine is otherwise the most mobile of all spinal column segments.

For a basic anatomic description of the structure a generic vertebra, see vertebrae.

Gross Anatomy

Most thoracic vertebrae have similar features with the exception of some atypical ones. Relative to cervical and lumbar vertebrae, thoracic vertebrae have:

  • medium-sized, heart shaped vertebral bodies
  • medium-sized vertebral canals
  • prominent transverse processes with costal facets
  • long spinous processes angulating downwards

For more detailed information, see typical thoracic vertebrae.


Spinal anatomy
Thoracic anatomy
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Article Information

rID: 43253
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:

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