Vertebral bodies


Top view of a vertebral body including the vertebral arch, including the spinal cord.

The spine consists of 24 vertebrae, which in turn are composed of a vertebral body and a vertebral arch.


The anatomy of the vertebral bodies reflects the special function of the spine, which on the one hand protects the spinal cord and on the other hand, as an important element, the stability of the entire skeleton with simultaneous mobility of the upper body.
The spine is made up of a total of 24 vertebral bodies, with seven cervical vertebrae, twelve thoracic vertebrae and 5 lumbar vertebrae being distinguished.

Each vertebral body is about one Intervertebral disc connected to the next, whereby the extensive ligamentous apparatus also holds the entire spine together. The vertebral bodies in particular are surrounded by the anterior and posterior longitudinal ligament. The vertebral arches close to the back of the vertebral bodies with the Spinous process at.Due to the fact that the load on the vertebral bodies increases from the first cervical vertebra to the last lumbar vertebra, the size of the vertebral body also increases.

The bone marrow of the vertebral body contributes a large part Blood formation at. The peculiarities of the cervical vertebrae are that they are relatively small and narrow and that they have vertical hook processes and lateral rib rudiments, which now serve as a guide structure for the right and left spinal arteries and nerves. It is noticeable that the thoracic vertebrae are lower at the front than at the back and have the cartilaginous joint sockets for the ribs on the sides. The lumbar vertebrae are characterized by their relatively enormous size.


A common feature in the structure of all almost cylindrical vertebral bodies, with the exception of the first and second vertebrae, is the compact bone frame, which forms the medullary canal of the vertebral body, which is made of spongy, delicate bone beams, the so-called "Cancellous bone“, Consists, surrounds on all sides. The strongly pronounced vertical bone bars are typical of the spongiosa of the vertebral body, which is due to the fact that their growth is stimulated more by the longitudinal load than by the horizontal load. On the top and bottom of the vertebral body there is an upper and a lower cover plate, which is covered by the intervertebral disc and connected to the next vertebra.

Figure three typical vertebrae seen from above

A - fifth cervical vertebra (red)
B - sixth thoracic vertebra (green)
C - third lumbar vertebra (blue)

  1. Vertebral bodies - Corpus vertebrae
  2. Vortex hole - Vertebral foramen
  3. Spinous process (mostly in cervical vertebrae
    divided into two) -
    Spinous process
  4. Transverse process -
    Transverse process
  5. Articular surface for the rib -
    Fovea costalis processus
  6. Upper articular process -
    Superior articular process
  7. Vertebral arch - Arcus vertebrae
  8. Articular surface for the rib
    on the vertebral body -
    Fovea costalis superior
  9. Rib-transverse process joint - Articulatio costotransversaria
  10. Rib - Costa
  11. Rib head joint - Articulatio capitis costae
  12. Transverse process hole (only for cervical vertebrae) - Foramen transversarium
  13. Transverse process of the lumbar vertebra ("rib process") - Costiform process

You can find an overview of all Dr-Gumpert images at: medical illustrations

Broken vertebral body

A vertebral body can be broken in a number of ways. Through an enormous vertical Upsetting, in which the vertebral bodies are compressed from above and below, it can lead to the so-called "impression" or Impression, to Gap formation or to the complete Shattering of the vertebral body. The vertebral body can also be broken by bending, stretching, or twisting the spine too much. Next to it is also osteoporosis, in which the bones lose substance, a common cause of one or more broken vertebral bodies. Above all, those broken vertebral bodies that endanger the stability of the spine and lead to neurological problems such as nerve failure or paraplegia are in need of treatment.


A cage is usually understood to be a titanium basket that is used in spinal surgery. On the one hand, it can be used as an intervertebral disc or vertebral body replacement and, on the other hand, to stabilize a broken vertebral body, for example. In both cases, the cage has the task of maintaining the spine as a skeletal element and providing continued protection for the spinal cord.

Vertebral body pain

root cause

The causes of pain can be rheumatic diseases or fractures and injuries to the vertebral body, which are caused by an accident, violence or in the context of osteoporosis. A Improper loading the vertebral body or congenital malformations can lead to deformation of the spine.


The vertebral bodies can cause pain and restrictions in mobility. In addition, if they are deformed, they can lead to scoliosis, i.e. a deviation of the spine to the side, or pronounced hump formation. Associated with this, or through the sagging of the vertebral bodies in osteoporosis, is a decrease in upper body size and consequently also in body size.


Discomfort of the vertebral bodies can be caused by specially made corsets and physiotherapy or by one surgery be treated. The aim of therapy in this case is to promote the stability of the spine and maintain the protection of the spinal cord. In some cases, part of the spine even needs to be stiffened.


In order to be able to assess a problem of the vertebral body more precisely, in addition to a questioning about the complaints and a physical examination, an imaging of the spine is required. X-rays as well as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) are suitable for this.


The prognosis depends on which structures have been affected.


In order to prevent discomfort in the vertebral bodies, it can be helpful to correct misalignments as part of physiotherapy and through exercise Back muscles to strengthenso that the vertebral bodies are relieved. In addition, women in particular should have osteoporosis clarified at an early stage if they have symptoms.