Thoracic vertebrae

Thoracic vertebrae: Anatomy & FunctionKey facts about the anatomy of the thoracic vertebrae
~ 3 min

In this PDF-note we are going to talk about the anatomy of the 12 thoracic vertebrae (vertebrae thoracicae). In general, they have a typical structure, except for some characteristic features, which developed due to the connection of these vertebrae with the ribs.

Thoracic vertebrae (vertebrae thoracicae)
Thoracic vertebrae (vertebrae thoracicae)
  • The 2nd to 9th thoracic vertebrae have superior and inferior costal facets (fovea costalis superior et fovea costalis inferior) on the lateral surfaces of the body.

ThVIII: Superior costal facet (fovea costalis superior)
ThVIII: Superior costal facet (fovea costalis superior)
ThVIII: Inferior costal facet (fovea costalis inferior)
ThVIII: Inferior costal facet (fovea costalis inferior)

When the inferior demi-facet of the overlying vertebra connects to the superior demi-facet of the underlying vertebra, a larger (complete) facet is formed, which articulates with the corresponding rib.

  • The first thoracic vertebra has a larger superior facet instead of a superior demi-facet, into which the first rib is placed.

  • The 10th thoracic vertebra has one larger superior facet instead of two demi-facets, into which the 10th rib is placed.

  • And the 11th and 12th thoracic vertebrae each have one larger facet, articulating with the 11th and 12th ribs, respectively.

ThXII: Costal facet (fovea costalis)
ThXII: Costal facet (fovea costalis)

Moreover, the 11th and 12th thoracic vertebrae are similar in structure to the lumbar vertebrae: they each have two additional processes on their transverse processes.

The transverse processes (processus transversus) of all thoracic vertebrae except for the 11th and 12th have a transverse costal facet (fovea costalis processus transversi). This facet is connected to the articular surface on the rib tubercle.

ThVIII: Transverse costal facet (fovea costalis processus transversi)
ThVIII: Transverse costal facet (fovea costalis processus transversi)

The spinous processes of the thoracic vertebrae (processus spinosus) are rather long and overlap each other like tiles.

ThVIII: Spinous process (processus spinosus)
ThVIII: Spinous process (processus spinosus)
Dictionary

Thoracic vertebrae

vertebrae thoracicae
thoracic vertebrae
corpus vertebrae
vertebral body
fovea costalis superior
superior costal facet
fovea costalis inferior
inferior costal facet
processus transversus
transverse process
fovea costalis processus transversi
transverse costal facet
processus spinosus
spinous process
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