IS Case 564: Supernumerary lumbar vertebrae

Sirisha Jasti, MD

Imaging Sciences URMC

Imaging Sciences URMC 2010
Publication Date: 2011-11-16


Patient is a 13-year-old girl with abdominal pain.


AP view of the abdomen showed an incidental finding of six non-rib bearing lumbar vertebrae.


Supernumerary lumbar vertebrae


The normal spine has five lumbar vertebrae. Supernumerary lumbar vertebrae (commonly six lumbar vertebrae) are seen in about 10% of the population. One study found that the transverse processes of the sixth lumbar vertebra commonly articulate with the alar of the sacrum in most people with supernumerary vertebrae.

The extra lumbar vertebra is not of much clinical significance, except in cases of spinal surgery that require identifying the landmarks based on the level of the lumbar vertebral body. Though some physicians believe that the extra vertebral body can alter the curvature of the spine and cause problems like back pain, there are no studies in the literature that support this.


  1. Webber RH. The lumbar nerves in a body with six lumbar vertebrae. Anat Rec. 1956 Sep;126(1):123-6. PMID: 13362973
  2. Luboga S. Supernumerary lumbar vertebrae in human skeletons at the Galloway Osteological Collection of Makerere University, Kampala. East Afr Med J. 2000 Jan;77(1):16-9. PMID: 10944832

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