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Definition of Axis

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Axis: The axis is the second cervical vertebra (symbol: C2). It is called the "axis" because the uppermost cervical vertebra (called the atlas) rotates about the odontoid process of C2. The joint between the axis and atlas is a pivot type of joint. It allows the head turn.

The Latin word "axis" means axle or pole. The axis bone serves as the axle about which the atlas (and the head) turn.

Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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