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Transversus thoracis muscle


Anatomy and supply

The transversus thoracis muscle is a thin muscle on the inner surface of the anterior thoracic wall. Its origin lies on the dorsal surface of the xiphoid process and the body of the sternum. From there five insertion tendons run craniolaterally to the cartilage of the 2nd to 6th ribs giving it a serrated appearance. The exact number of tendons and the places of insertion vary greatly, making the transversus thoracis one of the most variable muscles in the human body. Caudally, its fibers course almost parallel to those of the transversus abdominis, which is where it got its name from. In rare cases, these two muscles can even be found merged together. The transversus thoracis is supplied by intercostal nerves arising from the thoracic nerves (Th2-Th6).

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The contraction of the transversus thoracis pulls the rib cartilages caudally, thus supporting expiration. However, it is not considered to be among the primary respiratory muscles such as the intercostal muscles or the diaphragm. Firstly, it is barely active in the supine position. Secondly, many people have a poorly developed transversus thoracis and show no breathing difficulties. For those reasons, it is only regarded as an accessory muscle of expiration.

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Show references


  • D. Drenckhahn/J. Waschke: Taschenbuch Anatomie, 1st edition, Urban & Fischer Verlag/Elsevier (2008), p. 149
  • M. Schünke/E. Schulte/U. Schumacher: Prometheus – LernAtlas der Anatomie – Allgemeine Anatomie und Bewegungssystem, 2nd edition, Thieme Verlag (2007), p. 156-157
  • L. Jelev/S. Hristov/W. Ovtscharoff: Variety of transversus thoracis muscle in relation to the internal thoracic artery: an autopsy study of 120 subjects, Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery (2011), vol. 6, no. 11


  • Achudhan Karunaharamoorthy


  • Transversus thoracis muscle - Yousun Koh 
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