The thoracic cage is also called the rib cage or the thoracic basket. It is comprised of a sternum and a set of curved bones, called the ribs. It is attached to the diaphragm at the lower end. The main functions of the thoracic cage are to protect and support the internal organs and provide a definite shape to the thorax region. It protects the sensitive organs such as the heart and lungs in the chest area.
Sternum (Breast Bone)
The sternum is also called the breast bone. It is a long, narrow flat bone, located at the middle of the chest. It is divided into three parts: the manubrium, the body of the sternum (sometimes called the gladiolus) and the xiphoid process. It supports the muscles which help in the movement of arms, head and neck, and protects several vital organs, such as the heart, aorta, vena cava and thymus gland that are located behind the sternum.
Ribs are the long curved bones, attached behind to the middle segment of the vertebral column/spine. There are twelve pairs of ribs: the true ribs (ribs 1-7), the false ribs (ribs 8-10) and the floating ribs (11-12). The ribs swing up and down when we breathe to inflate and deflate our lungs. The ribs protect the internal organs that they enclose and lend support to the muscles of the trunk.