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Xiphoid process Processus xiphoideus

English synonyms: Xiphoid/xiphisternum/metasternum

The xiphoid process, or processus xiphoideus in latin, is the inferior most portion of the sternum. Its name is a reference to it being a thin and pointed, sword-like projection off of the body of the sternum. In children the xiphoid process is cartilaginous, however as humans age the xiphoid process ossifies. By mid to late adulthood the ossified xiphoid process will have typically fused with the sternum completely. The xiphisternal joint, an immobile joint between the sternum and xiphoid process, lies at the T9 vertebral level, while the xiphoid process itself lies between the T9 and T10 vertebral levels. The xiphoid process contains demifacets for the seventh costal cartilage. Its anterior surface provides an attachment site for fibers of the rectus abdominis muscle, as well as for the aponeurosis of the internal and external oblique muscles. On the posterior surface of the xiphoid process an attachment for the sternopericardial ligament can be found, as well as part of the origin of the transversus thoracis muscle, and the sternal origin of the diaphragm. The xiphoid process can be used as a bony landmark to locate the superior level of the liver, the inferior border of the heart, and the central tendon of the diaphragm. Knowing its location can also be useful when performing CPR, since forceful exertion on the xiphoid process can cause it to break away from the sternum and puncture the diaphragm or liver.

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