What is a Vertebrae Model?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 08 December 2019
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A vertebrae model is a medical model that provides a representation of the vertebrae, the bones on the spine. Medical catalogs and stores usually stock vertebrae models of various styles and designs for a wide range of purposes from patient education to artist's references. It is also sometimes possible to acquire used models from doctor's offices and clinics when they sell off old reference materials.

In some cases, a vertebrae model is a physical model. It can be made to scale or not, depending on the manufacturer and the intended use, and some are life-sized, providing people with a realistic model of the vertebrae of the spine. The physical model may be articulated, with the vertebrae connected in order. It can also be designed to pull apart so that people can examine individual vertebrae and reassemble the spine. Materials like plastic and resin are commonly used because they are strong and durable and the model can also feature a model of the spinal cord that fits inside the vertebrae.


Physical models can be useful for patient education, as a doctor can point to features on a vertebrae model to explain a medical procedure or provide details about a spinal condition. Doctors can also consult models in their own clinical education. Practitioners like chiropractors may keep such models on hand for continuing education and reference. A vertebrae model can also be a useful reference for artists and other people who need accurate and detailed information about spinal anatomy.

Virtual models are also available. These models are displayed in a computer program. People may be able to manipulate variables related to the model to simulate things like aging, progressive diseases, traumatic accidents, and surgical procedures. Three dimensional computer modeling can provide a high degree of precision and accuracy for a virtual vertebrae model. These models can be used as study guides, in the development of medical treatments, and in education of both patients and care providers.

Because vertebrae models come in so many styles, it is important to consider how a model will be used when making a purchase. If the ability to physically manipulate is important, a physical model would probably be a better choice and the buyer may want to purchase a model that can be taken apart and put back together. By contrast, people interested in the ability to simulate may prefer a virtual model and a robust computer program to support anatomy simulations.


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