The atlantic part; V3 segment (extradural or extraspinal) of vertebral artery extends from C2 to the dura.
It issues from the C2 foramen transversarium on the medial side of the Rectus capitis lateralis.
It is further subdivided into the vertical part V3v passing vertically upwards, crossing the C2 root and entering the foramen transversarium of C1, and the horizontal part V3h, curving medially and posteriorly behind the superior articular process of the atlas, the anterior ramus of the first cervical nerve being on its medial side; it then lies in the groove on the upper surface of the posterior arch of the atlas, and enters the vertebral canal by passing beneath the posterior atlantoöccipital membrane.
This part of the artery is covered by the Semispinalis capitis and is contained in the suboccipital triangle—a triangular space bounded by the Rectus capitis posterior major, the Obliquus superior, and the Obliquus inferior. The first cervical or suboccipital nerve lies between the artery and the posterior arch of the atlas.