Anatomical diagrams of the spine and back


Antoine Micheau - MD , Denis Hoa - MD

Published on

Monday 09 December 2019



Anatomical parts

Anatomical diagrams of the spine and back

This human anatomy module is composed of diagrams, illustrations and 3D views of the back, cervical, thoracic and lumbar spinal areas as well as the various vertebrae. It unites the osteology, arthrology and myology of the spine and back.


It is consequently of particular interest to physiotherapists, osteopaths, rheumatologists, neurosurgeons, orthopaedic surgeons and general practitioners, especially for the study and understanding of diseases of the back and spine (lumbago, sciatica, herniated disc...).


Anatomy of  the vertebral lumbar column : vertebral body, pedicle, intervertebral disc, spinous process

Left view of the lumbar vertebral column (Illustration : A. Micheau, MD - E-anatomy - Imaios)



Anatomical diagrams of the spine and back


These diagrams and original illustrations were produced from 3D medical imaging reconstructions of the spine and back by Dr. Antoine Micheau. All the images are in vector format, allowing an optimal web display with zoom and shifting of the anatomical images.



3D Anatomy of a cervical vertebra (C4) (A. Micheau, MD - E-anatomy - Imaios)

3d-view of a cervical vertebra adapted from a CT scan



Chapters comprising this atlas of spinal anatomy


  • A general view of the spine with the various levels (cervical, thoracic and lumbar spinal regions, sacrum and coccyx) as well as the physiological curvature of the spine (cervical and lumbar lordosis, thoracic and sacral kyphosis).



Anatomy of the vertebral column with cervical lordosis, thoracic kyphosis, lumbar lordosis and sacral kyphosis

Vertebral column: Anterior view, Posterior view, Lateral view , 3D rendering



  • The bony structures of the cervical vertebrae (C1 to C7) as well as lateral views of anatomical and anterolateral cervical spine.
  • The thoracic vertebrae (T1 to T12) in top, bottom and lateral views.
  • The lumbar vertebrae (L5 L1A) with an anterolateral view showing the joints in two lumbar vertebrae and an illustration of the lateral lumbar spine surface.
  • The sacrum and coccyx, in lateral, superior, anterior and posterior views as well as sagittal and axial sections of the sacrum and coccyx.
  • A chapter on joints and ligaments of the spine, including atlanto-axial joints, costovertebral joints and the sacroiliac and sacro-coccygeal joints.



Human anatomy of the sacrum showing base, promontory, wing and apex of the sacrum, with coccyx and coccygeal vertebrae

Anterior view of the sacrum , 3D reconstruction



  • The myology of the spine and back unites several muscle groups:
    • The suboccipital muscles (splenius muscle, semispinalis muscles of the neck and head and interspinous neck muscles...)
    • The muscles of the back with the surface (trapezius, latissimus dorsi, thoracolumbar fascia, deltoid) and intermediate layers (serrated muscles, external and internal oblique muscle).
    • The back muscles proper with on the one hand an anatomical plate-type representation and on the other a schematic view of the origin and insertion of the proper muscles of the back (iliocostal muscle of the neck, lumbar (lumbar and thoracic parts), longissimus muscles of head, neck and thorax, the spinalis muscles of the neck and thorax, semispinalis muscle of the head, neck and thorax, lateral intertransverse muscles of the loins...)
    • A schematic view of the muscles of the back proper represents the multifidus muscles of the neck, chest and lower back and the rotator muscles of the neck, chest and loin. The short elevator muscles of the ribs and long elevator muscles of the ribs as well as the quadratus lumborum are also represented.
    • Finally a diagram summarises the insertion and origin of the transversal spinalis muscles (semispinalis, multifidus and rotator muscles).
    • NB: the nomenclature of the muscles of the spine varies greatly depending on the source, so we have scrupulously followed the Terminologia Anatomica.



Anatomy of the cervical column and cervical vertebrae, including atlas, axis and canal for vertebral artery

Anatomy of the cervical vertebral column (Illustration : A. Micheau, MD - E-anatomy - Imaios)



Anatomy diagram of the muscles of the back, inner and proper back, with suboccipital muscles, trapezius, rhomoid minor and major, latissimus dorsi, erector spinae...

Muscles of back and back proper (Illustration : A. Micheau, MD - E-anatomy - Imaios)



  • Finally different sections of the spine and adjacent structures are represented:
    • Cervical spine sections regarding the atlas (C1), the C4 and C7 vertebrae with paraspinal muscles, the muscles of the neck and back as well as the relationship with the jugulocarotid axis and the ENT structures
    • Anatomical sections of the dorsal vertebrae in relation to T4 and T12 vertebrae (costovertebral joints, muscles of the chest wall, arteries, veins and intercostal nerves...)
    • Anatomical section of the lumbar vertebra L4 with the psoas muscles in front, the different fascias, muscles of the abdominal wall.
    • Anatomical section of the sacrum and sacroiliac joints, with sacroiliac ligaments, bone structures, the termination of the thoracolumbar fascia, the sacral canal and hip muscles...



cross section anatomy of neck and vetebral column with transverse slice of cervical vertebra C4

Transverse section on C4 vertebra (Illustration : A. Micheau, MD , E-anatomy , Imaios)


Using this atlas of human anatomy dedicated to spine and back


The "anatomical structures" tab allows you to choose to display the various structures in colour illustrations of the anatomy of the back and spine: vertebrae, bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, muscular system, fascia, arteries, veins, nerves and various adjacent organs.


costovertebral joints anatomy, vetebral column, radiate ligament of rib, superior transverse ligament, anatomycal, diagram, illustration , A. Micheau - MD

Diagram of costovertebral joints anatomy (A. Micheau, MD , E-anatomy , Imaios)



The "illustrations" tab is used to navigate between illustrations devoted to the osteology of the spine, the joints and ligament structures of the vertebrae and ribs, the myology of the back and spine and anatomical sections of the human body.


Terminology and languages


The nomenclature in osteology is relatively stable, but against it are enormous differences between the old French nomenclature, the new frenchified nomenclature and the Terminologia Anatomica. For example, the small muscles and large complexus, the epispinal muscles... etc., are no longer referred to in the same manner.

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