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Explain the Intercostal Muscles
Look at Figure Can you spot the intercostal muscles?
Yes, there are 11 pairs of intercostal muscles. The intercoastal muscles are the muscles between the ribs which contract during inspiration to increase the volume of the chest cavity. They are located in the spaces between the ribs. They are arranged in two layers called the external intercostal muscles and the internal intercostal muscles.
1. The external intercostal muscle fibres extend in a downward and forward direction from the lower border of the rib above to the upper border of the rib below.
2. The internal intercostal muscle fibres extend in a downward and backward direction from the lower border of the rib above to the upper border of the rib below. They cross the external intercostal muscle fibres at right angles. The intercostal muscles are stimulated to contract by intercostal nerves.
During inspiration, the intercostal muscles contract. They move upwards and outwards causing enlargement of the thoracic cavity as shown in the Figure.
During expiration, the volume of thoracic cavity is decreased by relaxation of diaphragm and intercostal muscles which results m increase in thoracic pressure and pressure of lungs. As a result, air is expired from lungs to the atmosphere.
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