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Vertebral Body

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Updated October 24, 2006

The vertebral body is the largest vertebral part.

The vertebral body is the largest vertebral part.

(c) Anne Asher 2006 licensed to About.com
Definition: The vertebral body is the biggest vertebral part. It is the anterior portion of the vertebra, meaning it faces into the body, rather than outward.

The vertebral body is generally shaped like a short cylinder. This cylindrical shape is modified depending upon where in the spine it is located, i.e. cervical, thoracic or lumbar. (The same is also true of the other parts of the vertebra; for example, the spinous processes on the back of cervical vertebrae are more elongated than those of the lumbar spine.) The bodies of the lumbar vertebrae are thicker and stronger than thoracic and cervical vertebrae.

The vertebral bodies of the spine stack up on one another to create the vertebral column. The vertebral bodies help provide important support for sitting, standing, walking and other movements. Between the vertebral bodies are the intervertebral disks, providing cushioning and shock absorption.

The vertebral bodies also provide (along with other parts of the vertebra) the boundaries for the spaces through which the spinal cord travels, as well as branching nerves that exit the spine on their way to all parts of the body.

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