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The Articulating Neural Arch: A Rare Developmental Anomaly

Robert W. Mann, Ashley Burch, Ethne Barnes, Wolf-Rüdiger Teegen, Popi Th. Chrysostomou


The separate neural arch (spondylolysis) is a common occurrence in forensic examinations as well as in other clinical, anatomical, and osteological casework. A faceted articulating neural arch, in comparison, is a very rare developmental anomaly, differing from spondylolysis by its etiology and the presence of accessory “intermediate” joint facets resulting in three pairs of diarthrodial facets in one vertebra. The morphology and rarity of the faceted articulating neural arch can assist medicolegal specialists in establishing the identity of fleshed or skeletonized human remains. The authors present what may be the first accurately diagnosed examples of accessory articulating facets in the lumbar vertebrae of three individuals.


forensic anthropology, accessory articular facet, pars interarticularis cleft, separated neural arch, spine, spondylolsis, skeletal variants, vertebra

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