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Bone: Sacrum
Sacrum, pelvic surface
Image of pelvis. Sacrum is in center.
Latin os sacrum
Gray's subject #24 106
MeSH Sacrum
Dorlands/Elsevier o_07/12598664

The sacrum is a large, triangular bone at the base of the spine and at the upper and back part of the pelvic cavity, where it is inserted like a wedge between the two hip bones. Its upper part connects with the last lumbar vertebra, and bottom part with the coccyx (tailbone).

It is curved upon itself and placed obliquely (that is, tilted forward). It is kyphotic — that is, concave facing forwards. The base projects forward as the sacral promontory internally, and articulates with the last lumbar vertebra to form the prominent sacrovertebral angle. The central part is curved outward towards the posterior, allowing greater room for the pelvic cavity.



The name is derived from the Latin sacer, "sacred", a translation of the Greek hieron (osteon), meaning sacred or strong bone.[1] This is supposedly because the sacrum was the part of an animal offered in sacrifice. In Slavic languages and in German this bone is called the "cross bone" [2].


  • The pelvic surface of the sacrum is concave from above downward, and slightly so from side to side.
  • The dorsal surface of the sacrum is convex and narrower than the pelvic.
  • The lateral surface of the sacrum is broad above, but narrowed into a thin edge below.
  • The base of the sacrum, which is broad and expanded, is directed upward and forward.
  • The apex (apex oss. sacri) is directed downward, and presents an oval facet for articulation with the coccyx.
  • The vertebral canal (canalis sacralis; sacral canal) runs throughout the greater part of the bone; above, it is triangular in form; below, its posterior wall is incomplete, from the non-development of the laminae and spinous processes. It lodges the sacral nerves, and its walls are perforated by the anterior and posterior sacral foramina through which these nerves pass out.


The sacrum articulates with four bones:

  • the last lumbar vertebra above
  • the coccyx below
  • the hip bone on either side

Although in most people the sacro-iliac joints are tightly bound and immobile, some are able to rotate the sacrum forward a few degrees vis-à-vis the ilia. This motion is sometimes called "nutation", and the reverse motion "counter-nutation."[3]

It is called the sacrum when referred to all of the parts combined, but sacral vertebrae when referred individually.

Sexual dimorphism

The sacrum is noticeably sexually dimorphic (differently-shaped in males and females).

In the female the sacrum is shorter and wider than in the male; the lower half forms a greater angle with the upper; the upper half is nearly straight, the lower half presenting the greatest amount of curvature. The bone is also directed more obliquely backward; this increases the size of the pelvic cavity and renders the sacrovertebral angle more prominent.

In the male the curvature is more evenly distributed over the whole length of the bone, and is altogether greater than in the female.


The sacrum, in some cases, consists of six pieces [2]; occasionally the number is reduced to four [3]. The bodies of the first and second vertebrae may fail to unite.

Sometimes the uppermost transverse tubercles are not joined to the rest of the ala on one or both sides, or the sacral canal may be open throughout a considerable part of its length, in consequence of the imperfect development of the laminae and spinous processes.

The sacrum also varies considerably with respect to its degree of curvature.

Additional images

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^§Hdr=on&spellToler=std&search=sacrum&relink=on
  3. ^ [1]

This article was originally based on an entry from a public domain edition of Gray's Anatomy. As such, some of the information contained herein may be outdated. Please edit the article if this is the case, and feel free to remove this notice when it is no longer relevant.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Sacrum". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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