This study details the quantitative three-dimensional surface anatomy of thoracic vertebrae based on a study of 144 vertebrae. The thoracic spine was found to have three distinct regions: upper, middle, and lower segments. The two end segments appear to be transitional zones toward cervical and lumbar regions. The middle zone (T3 to T9) is of utmost importance due to the presence of the combination of narrow spinal canal and critical vascular supply. Means and standard errors of the means for linear, angular, and area dimensions of vertebral bodies, spinal canal, pedicle, pars articularis, spinous and transverse processes, and rib articulations are provided for all thoracic vertebrae. This information is necessary for constructing accurate mathematical models of the human spine. It will also provide a better understanding of the spine, and allow for a more precise clinical and surgical management of spinal problems.
thoracic spine; vertebrae; anatomy; vertebral dimensions; spinal canal; pedicles