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A transitional vertebra is one that has indeterminate characteristics and features of vertebrae from adjacent vertebral segments. They occur at the junction between spinal morphological segments:
cervical rib arising from C7
lumbar (13th) rib arising from T13 or L1 (depending on numbering)
lumbosacral transitional vertebra: most common
Their importance stems both because the altered anatomy can be symptomatic (e.g. cervical rib causing thoracic outlet syndrome) or because they can lead to confusion when describing findings and thus lead to an incorrect level operation.
Radiographic features vary according to the area of the spine involved. Please see the links above for examples.
- 1. Carrino JA, Campbell PD, Lin DC et-al. Effect of Spinal Segment Variants on Numbering Vertebral Levels at Lumbar MR Imaging. Radiology. 2011;259 (1): 196-202. doi:10.1148/radiol.11081511 - Pubmed citation
- 2. Ryan S, McNicholas M, Eustace S. Anatomy for Diagnostic Imaging 2e. Saunders Ltd. (2004) ISBN:0702026204. Read it at Google Books - Find it at Amazon
- 3. Smoker WR. Craniovertebral junction: normal anatomy, craniometry, and congenital anomalies. Radiographics. 1994;14 (2): 255-77. Radiographics (abstract) - Pubmed citation
- 4. Weyreuther M, Heyde CE, Westphal M et-al. MRI Atlas: Orthopedics and Neurosurgery, The Spine. Springer. ISBN:3540335331. Read it at Google Books - Find it at Amazon