Cervical Vertebrae Definition

The cervical vertebrae are the seven cylindrical bones, or vertebral bodies (C1-C7), that provide support and structure for the cervical spine.

The vertebral body is the large portion of the bone that lies anterior (in front of) the spinal cord. The vertebrae get smaller as they near the base of the skull and only the top two segments allow for rotation in the neck.

The top cervical segment, called the atlas, is a ring that does not have a vertebral body.

The atlas is attached to the second vertebral body (the axis), which acts as a post that the first vertebral ring rotates around. The segments in the cervical spine contain openings in each vertebral body for arteries to carry blood to the brain(vertebral foramen).