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Arteries of the vertebral column

Learning objectives

After completing this study unit you will be able to: 

  1. Name the main arteries of the vertebral column and describe their course. 
  2. Identify and locate the arterial branches and the regions they supply. 

Watch video

Although the vertebral column extends from the base of the cranium all the way to the pelvic girdle, its vascular supply remains relatively similar throughout its entirety. Similar intricate vessels supply each vertebra, with the difference lying in their parent arteries which can vary between vertebral regions.

Each vertebra is supplied by a number of spinal, periosteal, pre/postcentral and pre/postlaminar vessels which arise from larger parent arteries. The vertebrae of the cervical region primarily receive their arterial supply from the vertebral and ascending cervical arteries. The posterior intercostal and subcostal arteries supply vertebrae of the thoracic region, the lumbar arteries supply vertebrae of the lumbar region, while the vertebrae of the sacral region receive their blood supply from the iliolumbar and lateral and medial sacral arteries.

Find out more about the arteries of the vertebral column by watching the video below.

Take a quiz

So many arteries and branches to remember. Take a quiz to make that knowledge stick!

For a broader range of topics, try out the fully customizable quiz below on the anatomy of the vertebral column. You can even save your selections so that you can quiz yourself later.

Browse atlas

Explore the arteries of the vertebral column in the gallery below.


Key points about the arteries of the vertebral column
Parent arteries by region Cervical: Vertebral and ascending cervical arteries
: Posterior intercostal arteries
Lumbar: L1-L4
: Subcostal and lumbar arteries L5: Iliolumbar and median sacral arteries
: Iliolumbar and lateral and median sacral arteries
Arteries of isolated vertebra Periosteal branches, equatorial branches, nutrient branches, segmental spinal branches, prelaminar arterial branch, postcentral arterial branch, radicular arteries

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