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Intervertebral discs

pads of fibrocartilage that separate the vertebrae

nucleus pulposus

inner component of intervertebral discs

annulus fibrosus

Composed of fibrocartilage, it is the outer portion of the intervertebral disc.

cerebrospinal fluid

the fluid in and around the brain and spinal cord

intervertebral foramina

openings found between adjacent vertebrae where spinal nerves pass through and connect to the spinal cord

primary curvature

Curvature present from early fetal development. Thoracic and sacrococcygeal (pelvis) both of which are concave anteriorly

secondary curvature

Curvature that develops after the primary curvature is already established. Cervical and lumbar, both convex anteriorly.


exaggerated posterior curvature of the thoracic spine (hunchback)


abnormal anterior curvature of the lumbar spine (sway-back condition)


an abnormal lateral curve to the vertebral column

Anterior Longitudinal Ligament

a ligament that courses from superior to inferior along the anterior surfacesa of all vertebral bodies it lies directly posterior to the thoracic and abdominal viscera Prevents hyperextension of the vertebral column (from occipital bone to sacrum)

posterior longitudinal ligament

a ligament that courses from superior to inferior along the posterior surfaces of all vertebral bodies it is broader at the intervertebral disks and narrow at the vertebral bodies which gives it a scalloped edge; it is located in the vertebral canal; it is NOT penetrated by the needle during spinal tap (from C2 to sacrum) Helps prevent hyper-flexion and posterior protrusion

Supraspinous Ligament

interconnects the tips of the spinous processes from C7 to the sacrum

Ligamentum flavum

connects the laminae of adjacent vertebrae, yellow in color

Interspinous Ligaments

connect adjacent vertebral spines

Spinal arteries

Arteries that arise from segmental arteries and communicate with the posterior and anterior spinal arteries; they provide blood supply to the cervical (occipital, vertebral, deep cervical and accending cervival), thoracic (posterior intercostals), lumbar (subcostal and lumbar), and sacral regions (iliolumbar and lateral sacrals) of the spinal cord.

Paresis and paralysis

weakness of loss of function due to a loss of blood supply to a region of the spine

external vertebral venus plexus

lies external to the vertebral column, drain into the vertebral, intercostal, the lumbar and the lateral sacral veins

internal vertebral venus plexus

lies within the vertebral canal, drain into the vertebral, intercostal, the lumbar and the lateral sacral veins

superficial back muscles

trapezius, latissimus dorsi, levator scapulae, rhomboid major, rhomboid minor

intermediate back muscles

1) Serratus posterior superior
2) Serratus posterior inferior
Used for respiration

Deep back muscles

purpose is to extend, rotate and stabilize the vertebrae, erector spinae muscle group

erector spinae

3 columns- (iliocostalis-lateral); (longissimus-middle); (spinalis-medial), prime function is back extension. these three muscles have a common origin in a broad tendon attached inferiorly to the posterior aspect of the iliac crest, the posterior sacrum, sacroiliac ligaments and the lumbar and sacral spinous processes

auscultatory triangle

Boundaries: latissimus dorsi, trapezius, medial border of scapula, the rhomboid major forms the floor.

Site where breath sounds are most easily heard

lumbar triangle

Common side for posterior abdominal hernia (pus might emerge) Bounded by: latissimus dorsi, crest of ilium, external oblique muscle

spinal cord

a major part of the central nervous system which conducts sensory and motor nerve impulses to and from the brain

dura mater

thick, outermost layer of the meninges surrounding and protecting the brain and spinal cord

arachnoid mater

delicate web-like layer of the meninges; middle layer

pia mater

the highly vascular innermost of the 3 meninges

subarachnoid space

a space in the meninges beneath the arachnoid membrane and above the pia mater that contains the cerebrospinal fluid

cervical and lumbar enlargements

locations of the spinal chord that give rise to the brachial and lumbar plexuses (respectively)

filum terminale

This structure is made up of pia mater. It anchors the brain and spinal cord to the coccyx

ventral and dorsal roots

31 pairs of pinal nerver are attached to the spinal cord by these roots, ventral- motor, dorsal - sensory . dorsal root possesses a dorsal root ganglion

cauda equina

collection of spinal nerves below the end of the spinal cord

ventral ramus

innervates ventral and lateral skin and muscles of the trunk, and gives rise to nerves of the limbs

dorsal ramus

provides sensory/motor innervation to the skin and muscles of the back

denticulate ligament

Band of pia mater that anchors dura mater to cord

spina bifida

results when the vertebral laminae fail to fuse, presents as lack of a spinous process and is most commonly seen at the lower lumbar or sacral vertebral levels

spina bifida occulta

one or more spinous processes fail to form at the lumbar or sacral levels

spina bifida cystica

a cyst protrudes through the defect in the vertebral arch - may result in hydrocephalus and neurological deficits

spina bifida cystica with meningocele

a protrusion of the membranes of the spinal cord through a defect in the spinal column, the cyst is line by the meninges and contains CSF

spina bifida cystica with meningomyelocele

a protrusion of the membranes and the spinal cord through the defect in the vertebral column. results in bladder, bowel, or lower limb weakness

Lumbar puncture

removal by centesis of fluid from the subarachnoid space of the lumbar region of the spinal cord for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes, this is done above or below the fourth lumbar spine

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