HoMe PaGe

Vertebrae

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Every vertebra has a body, which consists of a large anterior middle portion called the centrum (plural centra) and a posterior vertebral arch, also called a neural arch. The body is composed of cancellous bone, which is the spongy type of osseous tissue, whose micro-anatomy has been specifically studied within the pedicle bones. This cancellous bone is in turn, covered by a thin coating of cortical bone (or compact bone), the hard and dense type of osseous tissue. The vertebral arch and processes have thicker coverings of cortical bone. The upper and lower surfaces of the body of the vertebra are flattened and rough in order to give attachment to the intervertebral discs. These surfaces are the vertebral endplates which are in direct contact with the intervertebral discs and form the joint. The endplates are formed from a thickened layer of the cancellous bone of the vertebral body, the top layer being more dense. The endplates function to contain the adjacent discs, to evenly spread the applied loads, and to provide anchorage for the collagen fibers of the disc. They also act as a semi-permeable interface for the exchange of water and solutes.

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