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Floating ribs

Recommended video: Ribs [16:16]
Main features of the ribs.

Floating ribs, also called vertebral ribs or free ribs refer specifically to ribs 11 and 12. These last two pairs of ribs are so named because they have no anterior articulation with the sternum or the other ribs and costal cartilages and instead terminate in the posterior abdominal wall musculature.

Although floating ribs are relatively small, they are structurally similar to other ribs, with a head, neck, and body. Their heads feature a single facet with which they articulate with the single (whole) costal facet of their corresponding vertebra. Their anterior ends are capped with rudimentary costal cartilages that have no attachment to other bones or cartilage.

Floating ribs provide protection to organs located in the lower part of the thoracic cavity and upper abdomen, notably the kidneys. As well, they provide attachment points for several muscles in this region, such as the diaphragm and intercostal muscles, thereby offering support and facilitating various bodily functions.

Terminology English:
Synonyms: Ribs 11-12, vertebral ribs, free ribs

Costae fluctuantes
Synonyms: Costae XI-XII, Ossa costalia fluctuantia, Costae arcuariae fluctuantaes, Costae fluitantes
Structure Head, neck, body, costal cartilage
Function Protection of organs and provision of attachment sites for muscles

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