Given the twelve thoracic vertebrae are largely similar, most are considered typical thoracic vertebrae with the exceptions T1 and T9 to T12. For a basic anatomic description of the structure of typical vertebrae, see vertebrae.
Relative to cervical and lumbar vertebrae, thoracic vertebrae have:
- medium-sized, heart shaped vertebral bodies
- medium-sized vertebral canal
- prominent transverse processes with costal facets
- long spinous processes angulating downwards
Anterior components of thoracic vertebrae:
- superior and inferior costal demifacets
Posterior components of typical thoracic vertebrae:
- downward angled spinous processes
- transverse processes
- superior and inferior articular facets
- transverse costal facets
- intervertebral foramen
Each vertebra contains three points of articulation with ribs.
The superior demifacet of a thoracic vertebra articulates with the corresponding rib (costovertebral joint). This rib articulates again with the costal facet on the transverse process (costotransverse joint). The inferior demifacet articulates with the rib below.
For example, the superior demifacet and costal facet on the transverse process of T5 will articulate with the fifth rib. The inferior demifacet of T5 will articulate with the sixth rib.
Facet (zygapophyseal) Joints
The superior articular process arises from the upper border of pedicle. An oval facet faces posterolaterally.
The inferior articular process arises from the lower border of the pedicle. The facets face anteromedially.
Similar to other vertebrae, discs are interposed between hyaline cartilage on the centrum of the vertebral bodies. The disc height is slightly less than cervical vertebrae.
- anteroposterior and lateral orthogonal is used to demonstrate the thoracic spine
- swimmers view allows better visualisation of the cervicothoracic area if the upper thoracic spine needs to be evaluated
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- cervical spine
- thoracic spine
- lumbar spine
- vertebral body
- neural arch
- transitional vertebrae
- ossification centres
- intervertebral disc
- anterior longitudinal ligament
- posterior longitudinal ligament
- posterior ligamentous complex
- cervical spine ligaments
- iliolumbar ligament
- musculature of the vertebral column
- muscles of the neck
- muscles of the back
- gross anatomy
- white matter tracts
- anterolateral columns
- lateral columns
- dorsal columns
- gray matter
- nerve root
- spinal meninges and spaces
- functional anatomy
- spinal cord blood supply
- vascular supply