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Vertebral column

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The vertebral column as seen from the side

The vertebral column is the scientific, anatomical word for the spine or backbone. It is a column of vertebrae in the back part of the torso (upper body). There is a canal that runs through the length of the backbone. Inside this canal is the spinal cord. Animals, including humans, that have a vertebral column are called vertebrates, and animals that don't have one are called invertebrates.


The vertebral column is divided by doctors into 5 sections called regions. These 5 regions from top to bottom are:

  • Cervical - Shown in red, this region supports the head. It is made up of 7 vertebrae. The first two, called the atlas and axis, connect the spine to the skull.
  • Thoracic - Shown in blue, this region supports the ribs. It is made up of 12 vertebrae.
  • Lumbar - Shown in yellow, this region is located in the lower back. It is made up of 5 vertebrae.
  • Sacral - Shown in green. It is made up of 5 vertebrae that are fused together.
  • Coccygeal - Shown in purple. It is made up of 3 to 5 vertebrae.


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