The seventh cervical vertebra, C7, also known as the vertebra prominens, shares similar characteristics of the like typical cervical vertebra C3-C6, but has some distinct features making it one of the atypical vertebrae. The name vertebra prominens arises from its long spinous process, which is easily palpable.
C7 possesses the standard cervical vertebral features but has some distinct features:
- spinous process ends in a rounded tubercle and is not bifid
- C7 transverse foramina are small, and do not transmit the vertebral artery
- C7 anterior tubercle is small, and is the site of attachment for scalenus pleuralis and suprapleural membrane
- C8 nerve, which does not have an associated cervical vertebra, exits in the C7-T1 vertebral foramen below C7