The vertebral body is the largest part of a vertebra, and is more or less cylindrical in shape.
Its upper and lower surfaces are flattened and rough, and give attachment to the intervertebral fibrocartilages, and each presents a rim around its circumference.
In front, the body is convex from side to side and concave from above downward. Behind, it is flat from above downward and slightly concave from side to side.
Its anterior surface presents a few small apertures, for the passage of nutrient vessels; on the posterior surface is a single large, irregular aperture, or occasionally more than one, for the exit of the basi-vertebral veins from the body of the vertebra.
The body is composed of cancellous tissue, covered by a thin coating of compact bone; the latter is perforated by numerous orifices, some of large size for the passage of vessels; the interior of the bone is traversed by one or two large canals, for the reception of veins, which converge toward a single large, irregular aperture, or several small apertures, at the posterior part of the body. The thin bony lamellæ of the cancellous tissue are more pronounced in lines perpendicular to the upper and lower surfaces and are developed in response to greater pressure in this direction.