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Published online: 2024-06-20

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Accessory thoracic muscles in human fetuses

Nicol Zielinska1, Marta Pośnik1, Krzysztof Koptas1, George Triantafyllou2, Janusz Moryś3, Łukasz Olewnik4
Pubmed: 38963084


Background: Typically, the anterior thoracic wall musculature is composed of the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor. Embryologically, these two muscles are originated from a common pectoral muscle mass; therefore, disruption of the normal development and differentiation could give rise to an aberrant or accessory muscle. The main aim of this study is to demonstrate and classify the accessory muscles of the pectoralis region in human fetuses.

Material and methods: Fifty spontaneously aborted human fetuses (25 male and 25 female, 100 sides) aged 18-38 weeks of gestation at death, and fixed in 10% formalin solution were examined. Following parental approval, the fetuses were donated to the Medical University anatomy program. The pectoralis major and minor muscle’s morphology, the possible occurrence of accessory muscles of pectoral region and its morphology, their origins, and insertions, as well as the morphometric details, were assessed.

Results: The pectoralis major and minor were bilaterally found in all fetuses (100 cases). The accessory muscles of pectoral region were found in 16 cases (16%), and four types were differentiated. The Pectoralis Quartus muscle was the most common type of accessory muscles found in this study and occurred in 8 cases. The axillary arch muscle was observed in 3 cases. The chondrocoracoideus muscle was observed in 3 cases. The sternalis muscle occurred in 2 cases, and one of them was bifurcated.

Conclusions: The thoracic region is characterized by a large amount of morphological variations, which are observed not only in adult population, but also among human fetuses. The pectoralis quartus was the most frequent variation in this study. Accessory structures like sternalis muscle, chondrocoracoideus muscle, pectoralis quartus muscle, or axillary arch muscle may have clinical implications, and knowledge about them is very useful for clinicians, especially plastic surgeons, thoracic surgeons, and orthopedics.

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