Transverse facet — overview

The transverse facet, more often referred to as the transverse costal facet or transverse costal fovea, is found on the thoracic (middle) spinal vertebrae. The transverse facets are grooves on the side of a thoracic vertebra that helps the vertebra attach to the rib cage.

Looking more closely, the transverse facet is located on the transverse processes extending from the rear of the thoracic vertebrae. Each vertebra contains two, one branching to the left and one branching to the right — transverse refers to this crossways direction. Learning more about spinal anatomy can help you have a better understanding of the sources of neck or back pain if it is affecting you or someone you know.

Transverse facet and the rib cage

It is at the end of each transverse process that the transverse facet makes a connection with a rib. The thoracic vertebrae are the only vertebrae that have this transverse facet connection since it is this region of the spine that connects with the rib cage.

There are benefits to the thoracic spine being directly connected to the rib cage, including the fact that the rib cage provides the thoracic spine with extra support. This is one reason why the thoracic spinal region experiences fewer injuries and less degeneration than the cervical (upper) spine or lumbar (lower) spine.

Issues affecting the transverse facet

Transverse facet and transverse process are terms you may hear if you have advanced disease or damage to your thoracic spine, as these are parts of the thoracic vertebrae that are involved in some forms of traditional spinal fusion surgery. If your physician has diagnosed you with a herniated disc, a bulging disc or spinal stenosis and you have exhausted conservative treatments, surgery may become an option. He or she may recommend a traditional open back surgery that involves spinal fusion. This surgery includes:

  • Taking a bone graft from your hip or pelvis, or from a cadaver
  • Inserting the bone graft onto the transverse process, just beneath the muscle
  • Attaching the bone graft with rods and screws
  • Closing the incision and waiting for the bone graft to fuse with existing bone which, ideally, would eliminate motion in that region of the spine and reduce discomfort

This form of traditional open spine surgery near the transverse facet involves a hospital stay, large incisions and a long, sometimes painful recovery period. However, there are alternatives. If your physician has diagnosed you with a spine condition like a herniated disc, a bulging disc, foraminal stenosis, degenerative disc disease or spinal arthritis, you may want to consider the outpatient treatment options offered at Laser Spine Institute.

We can give you more information on our minimally invasive procedures that could help you find relief from back pain. Shorter recovery periods,^ less risk of complication and higher patient satisfaction rates are just a few of the benefits minimally invasive procedures offered at Laser Spine Institute have when compared to traditional open spine surgery.

Contact us today for your no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures.