Thoracic cage

The skeleton of the rib cage (cavea thoracis. Don't mix cavea — cage, with the cavum — cavity) consists of the twelve thoracic vertebrae, ribs with their cartilages, and the sternum. The rib cage may look stiff, but it is a quite flexible structure with the complex motion behavior during lateral bending and rotation of the spine*.

  • * Lee DG. Biomechanics of the thorax – research evidence and clinical expertise. Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy. 2015;23(3):128-138.
  • Icon of crossfade image Download JPG image of the dorosal and posterior oblique view of the axial skeleton
    The frontal and anterior oblique view of the axial skeleton The dorosal and posterior oblique view of the axial skeleton
    The axial skeleton of the body. Multiple views
    The axial skeleton includes all bones that naturally rotate around the vertical axis of the body: the skull with the auditory ossicles, hyoid bone, spine, thoracic cage, and pelvis. The vertical rotational axis of other bones (appendicular skeleton) does not coincide exactly the vertical axis of the body.

    Icon of crossfade image Rib cage, Infrasternal angle, thorax with the anatomical terminology markup
    Frontal view of the thorax
    The anterior aspect of the rib cage
    Note the costal arch made by fused costal cartilages of 7th, 8th, 9th, and sometimes also 10th rib*.
    The list of terms: Vertebra thoracica I & XII – First and twelveth thoracic vertebra
    Manubrium sterni
    Cartilago costalis I – Costal cartilage of the first rib
    Costa prima – First rib
    Costa secunda – Second rib
    Angulus sterni – Sternal angle
    Corpus sterni – Body of sternum
    Cartilago costalis II–X – Costal cartilage II–X
    Costa III–XII – Rib III–XII
    Spatium intercostale I–III – First, second and third intercostal space
    Arcus costalis – Costal arch
    Angulus infrasternalis – Infrasternal angle
    Planum subcostale – Subcostal plane

  • * Patel A, Privette A, et al. Anatomy of the anterior ribs and the composition of the costal margin: a cadaver study. J Traum Acute Care Surg, 2023, 95(6):875–879.

  • Icon of crossfade image Thoracic inlet with the anatomical terminology
    Thoracic inlet. Apertura thoracis superior
    Oblique superior aspect of the rib cage. The thoracic inlet.
    The list of terms: Apertura thoracis superior – Superior thoracic aperture (thoracic inlet)
    Manumbrium sterni
    Incisura jugularis – Jugular notch
    Incisura clavicularis – Clavicular notch
    Cartilago costae I – Costal cartilage of the first rib
    Corpus costae I – Body of the first rib
    Caput & collum costae I – Head and neck of the first rib
    Articulatio capitis costae – Joint of rib head
    Corpus vertebrae Th 1 – Body of the first thoracic vertebra

    Icon of crossfade image Ribcage. View to the thoracic outlet with anatomical terminology
    Thoracic outlet. Apertura thoracis inferior
    Bottom view of the rib cage. The thoracic outlet.
    The list of terms: Apertura thoracis inferior – Inferior thoracic aperture (thoracic outlet)
    Processus xiphoideus – Xiphoid process
    Arcus costalis – Cosotal arch
    Costal cartilage XI – Costal cartilage of the eleventh rib
    Costa & cartilago costae XII – Twelfth rib with costal cartilage
    Corpus vertebrae thoracicae XII – Body of the twelfth toracic vertebra
    Cavitas thoracis – Thoracic cavity
    Sulcus pulmonalis thoracis – Pulmonary sulcus of thorax

    360° rotation of the rib cage
    First published: May/2020
    Last update: 15/Jan/2024