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Muscles of the thoracic wall: want to learn more about it?

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Muscles of the thoracic wall

Learning objectives

After going through this study unit you will be able to:

  1. Identify and name the muscles of the thoracic wall.
  2. Describe their attachment points and innervation patterns.
  3. Understand the anatomic relations between the muscles.

Watch video

The muscles of the thoracic wall are defined as muscles attached to the bony framework of the thoracic cage. They maintain the stability of the thoracic wall, and play a role in respiration. The muscles of the thoracic wall include the following muscle groups:

  • Serratus posterior muscles
  • Levatores costarum muscles 
  • Intercostal muscles
  • Subcostal muscles 
  • Transversus thoracis muscles

Note that some of the muscles of the pectoral girdle and neck, such as the pectoralis major and minor or the scalene muscles, also aid in respiration. However, from an anatomical point of view, the true muscles of the thoracic wall are those listed above.

The following video will introduce you to the anterior trunk muscles in general, with an emphasis on a few specific muscle groups of the thoracic wall.

Take a quiz

Summarize everything you've learned through our quiz.

Challenging yourself never gets old! Try out our custom quiz and test your knowledge with the questions about the thoracic wall.

Browse atlas

Revise the anatomy and relations of these muscles with our gallery. 


Key points about muscles of the thoracic wall
Muscles Serratus posterior muscles (superior, inferior)
Levatores costarum muscles
Intercostal muscles (external, internal, innermost)
Subcostal muscles
Transversus thoracis muscles
Innervation Thoracic nerves, intercostal nerves
Function Accessory respiratory muscles, support and stabilize thoracic cage

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