A typical cervical vertebra (from the third to the sixth inclusive) presents the following characteristics : - The body is smaller than in other regions of the column and is of oval shape with the long axis transverse. The lateral margins of the upper surface are raised into prominent lips, so that the surface is concave from side to side; it is also sloped downward in front. The inferior surface, on the contrary, projects downward in front and is rounded off at the sides to receive the corresponding lips of the adjacent vertebra. It is concave antero-posteriorly and convex in an opposite direction.
The roots (pedicles) are directed laterally and backward and spring from the body about midway between the upper and lower borders. The superior and inferior notches are nearly equal in depth, but the inferior are usually somewhat deeper. The laminse are long, narrow, and slender. The spinous process is short and bifid at the free extremity.
Articular processes. - Both the superior and inferior articular processes are situated at the junction of the root with the lamina and they form the upper and lower extremities of a small column of bone. The articular surfaces are oblique and nearly flat, the superior looking backward and upward, and the inferior forward and downward.
The transverse process presents near its base a round costo-transverse foramen [foramen transversarium] for the transmission of the vertebral artery, vein, and a plexus of sympathetic nerves. Moreover, each process is deeply grooved above for a spinal nerve, and is bifid at its free extremity, terminating in two tubercles - anterior and posterior. The costo-transverse foramen is very characteristic of a cervical vertebra. It is bounded medially by the pedicle, posteriorly by the transverse process (which corresponds to the transverse process of a thoracic vertebra), anteriorly by the costal process (which corresponds to the rib in the thoracic region), and laterally by the costo-transverse lamella. The latter is a bar of bone joining the two processes and directed obliquely upward and forward in the upper vertebrae and horizontally in the lower. The vertebral foramen is triangular with rounded angles, and is larger than in the thoracic or lumbra vertebrae.
Peculiar cervical vertebrae. - The various cervical vertebrae possess distinguishing features, though, with the exception of the first, second, and seventh, which are so different as to necessitate separate descriptions, these are largely confined to the direction of the costo-transverse lamella, and the size and level of the anterior and posterior tubercles. In the third the anterior tubercle is higher than the posterior and the costo-transverse lamella is obhque; in the fourth the anterior tubercle is elongated vertically, so that its lower end is nearly on a level with the posterior, though the lamella still remains oblique. In the fifth and sixth they are nearly on the same level, but in the latter the anterior tubercle is markedly developed to form the carotid tubercle.
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