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Intervertebral foramen

Recommended video: Vertebral column [21:36]
Structure and function of the vertebral column.

The intervertebral foramen is an oval-shaped opening formed between the pedicles of two adjacent vertebrae of the vertebral column.

The pedicles of each vertebra bear small indentations on their superior and inferior aspects called the superior and inferior vertebral notches respectively. Between two articulating vertebrae, the superior vertebral notch of the vertebra below, together with the inferior vertebral notch of the vertebra above, form the majority of the boundary of the intervertebral foramen. Parts of the posterior aspects of the vertebral bodies and intervertebral discs, as well as the capsule of the zygapophyseal joints, also contribute to forming the boundaries of the intervertebral foramina. 

These foramina provide passageways for spinal nerves to carry information to and from the spinal cord, as well as meningeal nerves, spinal arteries and venous connections between internal and external vertebral venous plexuses. The foramina are smallest in the cervical region and progressively increase in size as they descend through the thoracic and upper lumbar regions. 

Terminology English: Intervertebral foramen
Latin: Foramen intervertebrale
Structure Formed between the pedicles of adjacent vertebrae
Function Provides passage for spinal nerves

Learn more about the vertebral column with this study unit:

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