thoracic cage (anatomy)

Last reviewed 01/2018

The thoracic cage is the skeleton of the thorax. It consists of:

  • thoracic vertebrae
  • intervertebral discs between thoracic vertebrae
  • 12 sets of ribs:
    • articulate with thoracic vertebrae posteriorly
    • for all but ribs 11 and 12, there is connection to the sternum anteriorly via the costal cartilages
  • costal cartilages of ribs
  • sternum

The thoracic cage is separated from the abdominal cavity by the diaphragm. The superior aperture of the thoracic cage between thorax and the base of the neck is termed the thoracic inlet.