Name of bone

Cervical vertebrae


Vertebrae immediately behind (posterior to) the skull.

Muscle and ligament attachments

Enter important muscle and ligament attachments

Surface anatomy

The cervical vertebrae are the smallest of the true vertebrae, and can be readily distinguished from those of the thoracic or lumbar regions by the presence of a foramen in each transverse process, through which passes the vertebral artery.

  • The base of the nose and the hard palate correspond to C1.
  • The teeth (when the mouth remains closed) correspond to C2.
  • The mandible and the hyoid bone correspond to C3.
  • The thyroid cartilage is from C4 to C5.
  • The cricoid cartilage is from C6 to C7.


Enter radiographic images and landmarks

Physical examination

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Enter embryology for this bone


Enter anomalies for this bone


Injuries to the cervical spine are common at the level of the second cervical vertebrae, but neurological injury is uncommon. If it does occur, however, it may cause death or profound disability, including paralysis of the arms, legs, and diaphragm, which leads to respiratory failure. Common patterns of injury include the odontoid fracture and the hangman’s fracture, both of which are often treated with immobilization in a cervical collar or Halo brace


Figure 1. Vertebral column, lateral view

Figure 2. Differences between cervical, thoracic, and lumbar vertebrae

Figure 3. Cervical vertebra