Serratus posterior superior muscle

The serratus posterior superior is a thin, quadrilateral muscle, situated at the upper and back part of the thorax, deep to the rhomboid muscles.

Serratus posterior superior muscle
Thin film-like object, at center, is serratus posterior superior muscle.
OriginNuchal ligament (or ligamentum nuchae) and the spinous processes of the vertebrae C7 through T3
InsertionThe upper borders of the 2nd through 5th ribs
ArteryIntercostal arteries
Nerve2nd through 5th intercostal nerves
ActionsElevates ribs 2-5 [1]
LatinMusculus serratus posterior superior
Anatomical terms of muscle

It arises by a thin and broad aponeurosis from the lower part of the ligamentum nuchae, from the spinous processes of the seventh cervical and upper two or three thoracic vertebrae and from the supraspinal ligament.

Inclining downward and lateralward it becomes muscular, and is inserted, by four fleshy digitations, into the upper borders of the second, third, fourth, and fifth ribs, a little beyond their angles.

The function of serratus posterior superior is to elevate second to fifth ribs, which aids deep respiration.

Additional images

See also


  1. According to Moore et al (Moore Clinically Oriented Anatomy 7th Edition Chapter 1: Thorax, page 86) and Vilensky et al (Clin Anat. 2001 Jul;14(4):237-41. Serratus posterior muscles: anatomy, clinical relevance, and function. Vilensky JA, Baltes M, Weikel L, Fortin JD, Fourie LJ : The serratus posterior superior and inferior muscles are generally considered clinically insignificant muscles that, based on attachments, probably function in respiration. However, there is no evidence supporting a respiratory role for these muscles. In fact, some electromyographic data refute a respiratory function for these muscles. We suggest that the serratus posterior muscles function primarily in proprioception. Further, these muscles, especially the superior, have been implicated in myofascial pain syndromes and therefore may have greater clinical relevance than commonly attributed to them.

This article incorporates text in the public domain from page 404 of the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)

  • Clinically Oriented Anatomy, 4th ed. Keith L. Moore and Arthur F. Dalley.
  • Board Review Series: Gross Anatomy, 4th ed. Kyung Won Chung.
  • Anatomy figure: 01:05-02 at Human Anatomy Online, SUNY Downstate Medical Center - "Intermediate layer of the extrinsic muscles of the back, deep muscles."

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