German Contact Help Login Register

Pectoralis minor muscle

Anatomy and supply

The pectoralis minor is a fan-shaped muscle of the shoulder girdle. It originates from the third to fifth ribs, and inserts on the coracoid process of the scapula. It is innervated by the medial and lateral pectoral nerves (C6-Th1), branches of the brachial plexus. The pectoralis minor is located under the pectoralis major, and both form the anterior wall of the axilla. The contracted muscle can be easily palpated there. It is also located close in relation to the brachial plexus and both the subclavian artery and vein, which all run between the muscle and the ribcage.

Function

The pectoralis minor has two main functions. On one hand, it pulls the scapula anteriorly and inferiorly toward the ribs (abduction and depression respectively). This leads to a dorsomedial movement of the inferior angle of the scapula. This movement is both helpful when retracting the elevated arm and as well as moving the arm posteriorly behind the back. On the other hand, the pectoralis minor elevates the third to fifth ribs (given a fixed scapula) and expands the ribcage. By those means, it can also serve as an accessory muscle during inspiration.

Pathology

Both the axillary artery and vein, as well as some nerves of the brachial plexus run between the pectoralis minor and the coracoid process (coracopectoral space). In cases of hypertrophy or stiffening (e.g. when permanently leaning your upper body over the table while sitting) a compression of the neurovascular bundle can often occur. This is referred to as pectoralis minor syndrome (PMS), one form of thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS). Common complaints are tingling, numbness up to pain in the affected arm (especially in the ring and small finger) and a stiff shoulder.

In plastic surgery, the pectoralis minor is regarded as one of the best choices for reanimation of a paralyzed face. That is true due to the fact that this muscle is flat, triangular shaped and has double innervation. Those characteristics enable one transplant to replace two or more paralyzed facial muscles at the same time.

Get me the rest of this article for free
Create your account and you’ll be able to see the rest of this article, plus videos and a quiz to help you memorize the information, all for free. You’ll also get access to articles, videos, and quizzes about dozens of other anatomy systems.
Create your free account ➞
Show references

References:

  • M. Schünke/E. Schulte/U. Schumacher: Prometheus – LernAtlas der Anatomie – Allgemeine Anatomie und Bewegungssystem, 2.Auflage, Thieme Verlag (2007), S.294-295
  • J. E. Muscolino: The muscular system manual – The skeletal muscles of the human body, 2.Auflage, Elsevier Mosby (2005), S.263-265
  • B. Strauch [et al.]: Grabb's Encyclopedia of Flaps – Head and Neck, 3.Auflage, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (2009), S.443-444
  • G. Fors: Why We Hurt: A Complete Physical & Spiritual Guide to Healing Your Chronic Pain, Llewellyn Pub (2007), S.193-195

Author:

  • Achudhan Karunaharamoorthy

Illustrators:

  • Pectoralis minor muscle - Yousun Koh 
© Unless stated otherwise, all content, including illustrations are exclusive property of Kenhub GmbH, and are protected by German and international copyright laws. All rights reserved.
Ventral trunk
Ventral trunk
The ventral trunk consists of a group structures, including bones and muscles, which define the anterior walls of the abdomen and thorax. All structures defining the v...
Video count a3db2d98fd28cfd1cd99caddadbde5f907d1e3a493a993db189771b177a2d04f 13 Quiz count 06cd7644291a9e7c4823c938df7a5e5046355b925d999aa0dba2a29a21ef4670 7 Atlas count 29cd72e1d0a4b1f73b30557f7146817906eed0d1c95938cf1dec8ac994772ae5 82 Article count 96ad6c28973916e23cd894dc46f79bb41858ac566ecb5c631f36d6f1f22bd235 78
  1. Bones of the ventral trunk
    Bones
  2. Clavicle
    Bones
  3. Muscles of the ventral trunk
    Muscles
  4. Muscles of the ventral trunk II
    Muscle Facts
  5. Neurovasculature of the ventral trunk
    Arteries
    Veins
    Nerves
  6. Inguinal canal
    Ligaments
    Arteries
    Nerves
  7. Ventral trunk
    Question Bank
Dorsal trunk
Dorsal trunk
The dorsal trunk is a group structures, including bones and muscles, which define the back. All structures defining the dorsal walls of the abdomen and thorax will be ...
Video count a3db2d98fd28cfd1cd99caddadbde5f907d1e3a493a993db189771b177a2d04f 9 Quiz count 06cd7644291a9e7c4823c938df7a5e5046355b925d999aa0dba2a29a21ef4670 8 Atlas count 29cd72e1d0a4b1f73b30557f7146817906eed0d1c95938cf1dec8ac994772ae5 63 Article count 96ad6c28973916e23cd894dc46f79bb41858ac566ecb5c631f36d6f1f22bd235 65
  1. Bones of the dorsal trunk
    Bones
  2. Neurovasculature of the dorsal trunk
    Arteries
    Veins
    Nerves
  3. Superficial muscles of the back
    Muscles
  4. Superficial muscles of the back II
    Muscle Facts
  5. Intrinsic muscles of the back
    Muscles
  6. Intrinsic muscles of the back: lateral tract
    Muscle Facts
  7. Intrinsic muscles of the back: medial tract
    Muscle Facts
  8. Suboccipital muscles
    Muscle Facts

You might be also interested in the following articles

Create your free account.
Start learning anatomy in less than 60 seconds.