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4.1.8 Ligaments of the cervical spine

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(2.32)

Now we’ll look at the three ligaments that run the length of the cervical spine, starting with the nuchal ligament.

Here’s the nuchal ligament, also called the ligamentum nuchae. It’s a sheet of strong fibrous tissue that extends from the spinous process of the first thoracic vertebra, to the external occipital protuberance. The nuchal ligament limits forward flexion of the head and the cervical spine. It also serves as the attachment for some major muscles.

Next we’ll go round to the front to see the anterior longitudinal ligament. This broad band is the anterior longitudinal ligament. It runs the whole length of the vertebral column, connecting the fronts of the vertebral bodies. It ends up here, at this tubercle on the arch of the atlas.

The anterior longitudinal ligament is not as impressive in the neck as it is lower down. In the neck, the ligament that’s impressive is the posterior longitudinal ligament, which runs down the backs of the vertebral bodies, inside the vertebral canal.

To see the posterior longitudinal ligament we’ll remove the arches of the vertebrae, and also the back of the skull along this line. The spinal cord and the brain have been removed, together with their covering layer of dura. Here’s the base of the occiput, here’s the foramen magnum, here are the divided vertebral arches.

This is the posterior longitudinal ligament. It’s much broader and thicker here in the neck, than it is lower down the spine. The highest part of this ligament goes by a different name - it’s called the tectorial membrane.

To get a different view of it we’ll look at a specimen that’s been divided in the mid-line. Here’s the foramen magnum, here’s the anterior arch of the atlas, here's the odontoid process.

Here’s the tectorial membrane. It’s attached ...

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(2.32)

Now we’ll look at the three ligaments that run the length of the cervical spine, starting with the nuchal ligament.

Here’s the nuchal ligament, also called the ligamentum nuchae. It’s a sheet of strong fibrous tissue that extends from the spinous process of the first thoracic vertebra, to the external occipital protuberance. The nuchal ligament limits forward flexion of the head and the cervical spine. It also serves as the attachment for some major muscles.

Next we’ll go round to the front to see the anterior longitudinal ligament. This broad band is the anterior longitudinal ligament. It runs the whole length of the vertebral column, connecting the fronts of the vertebral bodies. It ends up here, at this tubercle on the arch of the atlas.

The anterior longitudinal ligament is not as impressive in the neck as it is lower down. In the neck, the ligament that’s impressive is the posterior longitudinal ligament, which runs down the backs of the vertebral bodies, inside the vertebral canal.

To see the posterior longitudinal ligament we’ll remove the arches of the vertebrae, and also the back of the skull along this line. The spinal cord and the brain have been removed, together with their covering layer of dura. Here’s the base of the occiput, here’s the foramen magnum, here are the divided vertebral arches.

This is the posterior longitudinal ligament. It’s much broader and thicker here in the neck, than it is lower down the spine. The highest part of this ligament goes by a different name - it’s called the tectorial membrane.

To get a different view of it we’ll look at a specimen that’s been divided in the mid-line. Here’s the foramen magnum, here’s the anterior arch of the atlas, here's the odontoid process.

Here’s the tectorial membrane. It’s attached to the base of the occiput, and to the body of the axis. Continuing as the posterior longitudinal ligament, it’s attached to the backs of the vertebral bodies, all the way down the spine.

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