Intervertebral foramina

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Intervertebral foramina
Peculiar thoracic vertebrae. Intervertebral foramina are indicated by arrows.
Sacrum, pelvic surface. (The two columns of four holes are the intervertebral foramina of sacrum, visible but not labeled.)
Latin foramen intervertebrale (pl. foramina intervertebralia)
TA A02.2.01.008
FMA 75346
Anatomical terms of bone

The intervertebral foramen (also called neural foramina, and often abbreviated as IV foramina or IVF), is a foramen between two spinal vertebrae. Cervical, thoracic, and lumbar vertebrae all have intervertebral foramina.

The foramina, or openings, are present between every pair of vertebrae in these areas. A number of structures pass through the foramen. These are the root of each spinal nerve, dorsal root ganglion, the spinal artery of the segmental artery, communicating veins between the internal and external plexuses, recurrent meningeal (sinu-vertebral) nerves, and transforaminal ligaments.

When the spinal vertebrae are articulated with each other the bodies form a strong pillar for the support of the head and trunk, and the vertebral foramen constitutes a canal for the protection of the medulla spinalis (spinal cord).

The size of the foramina is variable due to placement, pathology, spinal loading, and posture.

Foramina can be occluded by arthritic degenerative changes and space-occupying lesions like tumors, metastases and spinal disc herniations.

Specifically the intervertebral foramen is bound by the superior notch of the adjacent vertebra, the inferior notch of the vertebra, the vertebral body, and facet joints on the transverse process of the vertebra.


This article incorporates text in the public domain from the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)

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