The cervical (neck) vertebrae are the upper 7 vertebrae in the spinal column (the vertebral column). They are designated C1 through C7 from the top down.
C1 is called the atlas. It supports the head and is named for the Greek god Atlas who was condemned to support the earth and its heavens on his shoulders. (Because the god Atlas often adorned maps, a compilation of maps came to be known as an atlas).
C2 is called the axis because the atlas rotates about the odontoid process of C2. The joint between the atlas and axis is a pivot that allows the head to turn.
- Vertebrae, coccygeal
The coccyx, the small tail-like bone at the bottom of the spine near the anus, is made up of 3-5 (average of 4) rudimentary vertebrae.
- Vertebrae, lumbar
There are 5 lumbar vertebrae. The lumbar vertebrae are situated between the thoracic vertebrae and the sacral vertebrae in the spinal column. The 5 lumbar vertebrae are represented by the symbols L1 through L5.
- Vertebrae, sacral
There are 5 sacral vertebral bones. They are represented by the symbols S1 through S5 and are situated between the lumbar vertebrae and the coccyx (the lowest segment of the vertebral column). The sacral vertebrae are normally fused to form the sacrum.
- Vertebrae, thoracic
The 12 thoracic vertebrae are situated between the cervical (neck) vertebrae and the lumbar vertebrae. The thoracic vertebrae are represented by the symbols T1 through T12. The thoracic vertebrae provide attachment for the ribs and make up part of the back of the thorax (the chest).
- Vertebral arch
A circle of bone around the canal through which the spinal cord passes. A vertebral arch is composed of a floor at the back of the vertebra, walls (the pedicles), and a roof where two laminae join.