Test your knowledge: spinal morphology.
As physiotherapists and/ or manual therapists, we are familiar with differences of segmental and regional motions and coupled motions of the spine, but which major anatomic characteristics can distinguish a thoracic vertebra from a lumbar vertebra or cervicale vertebra and vice versa?
The answer can be found underneath the image below.
Anatomy of the thoracic vertebrae:
- Thoracic vertebrae are made in a light construction
- These vertebrae have strong lever arms.
- Kidney shaped corpus vertebrae
- Slightly wedge-shaped corpus
- Relatively small vertebral canal (especially T4-T9)
- Declining length of the transverse process from cranial to caudal
- Increasing length of inclination spinosis process from cranial à caudal
- Spinosis process 2-4 cm lower than corresponding vertebra
- Circular drawn-up facet joints
- Costosternal and costovertebral joints limiting the thoracic coupled mobility
- T1 to T7 have direct connections to costae 1 to 7 (joints and cartilage)
- In the upper thoracic spine the ribs have more frontal orientations.
- In the lower thoracic spine the collum of the ribs are more sagittal oriented.
- In the cervicothoracic spine the joint facets have roughly the same orientation and (some) characteristics of cervicale vertebrae.
- In the thoracolumbar spine is less rotation motion due to the facet orientation, but the higher levels have relative high axial rotation angles.
- Low amplitudes of lateral bending because of the presence of costae and stretch of the muscles at the opposite site of lateral bending.
- There are no costal facets at the transverse process of the 11th and 12th thoracic vertebra.
Special thanks to the Experimental Anatomic guide made by Prof. Dr. P. van Roy (Department of Medicine & Pharmacy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel).