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Anatomy Atlases: Illustrated Encyclopedia of Human Anatomic Variation: Opus I: Muscular System: Alphabetical Listing of Muscles: R: Rectus Abdominis

Illustrated Encyclopedia of Human Anatomic Variation: Opus I: Muscular System: Alphabetical Listing of Muscles: R

Rectus Abdominis

Ronald A. Bergman, PhD
Adel K. Afifi, MD, MS
Ryosuke Miyauchi, MD

Peer Review Status: Internally Peer Reviewed

The rectus muscle of lower mammals extends further over the thorax than that of the human subject. In many of the lower primates, it reaches the first rib and the clavicle. It may rise to the fourth rib or even the third rib in humans, and in certain rare cases even higher. On the other hand, the slip attached to the fifth rib may be absent. The muscle usually inserts onto two or three ribs. In one study, six types of insertion were found. In 67%, the insertions were ribs 4 and 5; 4,5 and 6; 5 and 6; or 5, 6 and 7. In 20%, the insertions were ribs 6 and 7; and in 10%, ribs 6, 7 and 8. Slender muscular slips are sometimes found between the rectus and the deep inguinal ring.


In the absence of pyramidalis, the inferior end of rectus abdominis is usually enlarged. Absence of a part or even the whole muscle has been reported. It may also be doubled.

A rectus lateralis abdominis has been described by Kelch, 2.5 cm. wide, located between external and internal oblique muscles, arising by a short tendon from the middle and edge of the tenth rib and extending over the edge of the eleventh rib to the edge of crest of the pubis.

The congenital absence of the abdominal muscles was first reported by Froumllich in 1839.

Syn.: Gerader Bauchmuskel, Grand droit (Cruveilhier).

Image 234 Absence of Abdomina Muscles (Prune belly)


Ando, T. (1938) On the rectus abdominis and the pyramidalis. Sotai taijino kaibogakuteki kenyu 2:1-30. In Japanese.

Chouke, K.S. (1927) The constitution of the sheath of the rectus abdominis muscle. Anat. Rec.61:341-349.

Dobson, G.E. (1883) Note on the rectus abdominis et sternalis muscle. J. Anat. physiol. 17:84-85.

Gruber, W. (1877) Tensor laminae posterioris vaginae musculi recti abdominis. Arch. Path. Anat. Physiol. Klin. Med. 69:400-403.

Gruber, W. (1879) Nachtrag zum Vorkommen des Musculus tensor laminae posterioris vaginae musculi recti abdominis. Arch. Path. Anat. Physiol. Klin. Med. 77:130-131.

Gruber, W. (1880) Tensor laminae posterioris vaginae musculi rectus abdominis. Arch. Path. Anat. Physiol. Klin. Med. 80:87-88.

Henle, J. (1871) Handbuch der Muskellehre des Menschen, in Handbuch der systematischen Anatomie des Menschen. Verlag von Friedrich Vieweg und Sohn, Braunschweig

Kita, T. (1931) On the rectus abdominis. Kaibogaku Zasshi 3:1491-1495. In Japanese.

Livini, F. (1905) Contribuzione alla morphologia des m. rectus abdominis e du m. supra-costalis nell'uomo. Arch. Ital. Anat. Embriol. 44:116-117.

Macalister, A. (1875) Observations on muscular anomalies in the human anatomy. Third series with a catalogue of the principal muscular variations hitherto published. Trans. Roy. Irish Acad. Sci. 25:1-130.

Milloy, F.J., Anson, B.J. and D.K. McAffee. (1960) The rectus abdominis muscle and the epigastric arteries. Surg., Gynec. Obstet. 110:293-302.

Morita, M. (1947) On the M. rectus abdominis, appendix, the length of the M. pyramidalis. Kaibogaku Zasshi 23:50-55. In Japanese.

Obata, T. and A. Sugiyama. (1943) The M. rectus abdominis and M. pyramidalis. Sotaiiji no Kaibogakuteki Kenkyu 4:155-185. In Japanese.

Sosa, G.C. , Liotta, D. and S. Liotta. (1952) La gaine des muscles grand droits del'abdomen considérations anatomiques dans les 3/4 supérieurs. L'Assoc. Anatomistes, Comptes Rendus. 39:329-338.

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