hyaline as well as fibrocartilage.
Some ligaments that are associated with the
vertebral column. There are several, some
more important than others and what we want
to take home from this particular lecture,
but you as a learner, should understand quite
importantly are anterior and posterior longitudinal
Here we’re looking at an anterior view and
we see the anterior longitudinal ligament.
It’s going to run from the sacrum all the
way up to the occiput or the occipital bone
of the skull. It will connect to the vertebral
bodies and the intervening intervertebral
discs. Because the surface area anteriorly
is pretty large, the width of the anterior
longitudinal ligament is also going to be
The anterior longitudinal ligament will help
stabilize the vertebral column during extension.
So, if we flex, move forward and then extend,
it will help to stabilize the vertebral column
in that extension. The more we extend,
the tighter it becomes.
Located posteriorly and attached to the posterior
aspects of the vertebral bodies as well as
the posterior aspects of the intervertebral
discs is our posterior longitudinal ligament.
And we see a deeper portion of the posterior
longitudinal ligament here and then we see
a more superficial component of our posterior
longitudinal ligament. And in through here,
it’s attached to the posterior aspects of
the vertebral bodies. And note that we have
the pedicles on either side. So, consequently,
because the pedicles are limiting structures,
the posterior longitudinal ligament is much
narrower as a band than would be the anterior
And then when you get at the level of the
intervertebral discs, you no longer have that
limitation. So, there are lateral extensions
of the posterior longitudinal ligament on
either side of the central bands. The posterior
longitudinal ligament does just the opposite
functionally of the anterior longitudinal
ligament and that will be to stabilize the
vertebral column during flexion. Also, if
you have a herniation of an intervertebral
disc, note that this is a weaker area here
laterally from the central band. So, a herniation
of the intervertebral disc is going to come
out posterolateral to your posterior longitudinal
ligament on either side.
Another type of ligament that’s associated
with the vertebral column is the ligamentum
flavum. Flavum means yellow. And these are
yellow, elastic ligaments that run from lamina
to lamina. And so, this area here is the ligamentum
flavum on this side. And here is the ligamentum
flavum on the opposite side, again, running
from lamina to lamina. And we see more of
these ligaments as we move inferiorly in this
Right down here is the posterior midline.
So, projecting into the screen away from you
as a viewer of this lecture would be
the spinous process of this vertebra. And
then the spinous process of the vertebra below.
And if you look in the posterior midline,
you can see that there is generally a very
slight gap between the ligamenta flava as
they do not fuse in the posterior midline.
Because of their elastic nature, ligamenta
flava will help to limit or check separation
of the vertebral column during flexion. So,
as you flex, you put greater tension on the
elastic ligaments and the more tension you
place on them, the more that will help to
limit or restrict that range of movement.
Interspinous ligaments orbit around between
the spinous processes. So, we see them here
and here, spinous processes and then we have
an inner spinous process here. These are poorly
developed in the cervical area. And we can
also see in this particular view, a nice intervertebral
disc. This is the nucleus pulposus region
that was discussed a moment ago. And then
here’s an end plate here above and an end
plate here below. And so, this shows those
structural features more clearly. Interspinous
ligaments will help to limit or check the
separation of spinous processes during flexion.
We also have supraspinous ligaments and these
will run from the tips of spinous processes
to the next ones below or above depending
on where you start. Supraspinous ligaments
will run from the vertebra prominens, again
known as C7, and will extend inferiorly to
the level of the sacrum. These two will help
to limit separation of spinous processes
The ligamentum nuchae runs from the occiput
down to C7. So, it’s this midline ligamentous
structure. This specific attachment point
to the skull is known as the external occipital
protuberance. And the inferior limit of our
ligamentum nuchae will be at the spine of
C7, the vertebra prominens. So, the reality
here is the ligamentum nuchae represents the
superior expansion of the supraspinous ligament
within this particular anatomic region. It
will become taut during flexion and as result
of that, it helps to limit that movement.
Now that brings us to our summary. So, what
are the take-home messages from this particular
lecture on the vertebral column?
First, the vertebral column is made up of
five segments - cervical, thoracic, lumbar,
sacral and coccygeal. And typically, we will
have 33 vertebrae that make up the entire
The vertebral column is made up of primary
and secondary curvatures. Primary curvatures
form during development and increase the volume
in the thoracic area and pelvic area to house
important organs within those two anatomic
Secondary curvatures in the cervical area
and in the lumbar area represent developmental
milestones. Secondary curvatures will develop
in the cervical area when the infant is learning
to hold up his head and neck. And then in
the lumbar area, the secondary curvature will
develop when the infant is learning to walk
and become more mobile.
The two basic components of a typical vertebra
would be the body and the vertebral arch.
Segmental specification is demonstrated by
structurally modifying the vertebral components.
And then lastly, vertebral articulations and
attendant ligaments will confer and either
limit or increase the freedom of range of
Thank you for joining me on this lecture on
the “Vertebral Column”.