The ribs are elastic arches of bone, which form a large part of the thoracic skeleton. They are twelve in number on either side; but this number may be increased by the development of a cervical or lumbar rib, or may be diminished to eleven. The first seven are connected behind with the vertebral column, and in front, through the intervention of the costal cartilages, with the sternum they are called true or vertebro-sternal ribs.The remaining five are false ribs; of these, the first three have their cartilages attached to the cartilage of the rib above (vertebro-chondral): the last two are free at their anterior extremities and are termed floating or vertebral ribs. The ribs vary in their direction, the upper ones being less oblique than the lower; the obliquity reaches its maximum at the ninth rib, and gradually decreases from that rib to the twelfth. The ribs are situated one below the other in such a manner that spaces called intercostal spaces are left between them. The length of each space corresponds to that of the adjacent ribs and their cartilages; the breadth is greater in front than behind, and between the upper than the lower ribs. The ribs increase in length from the first to the seventh, below which they diminish to the twelfth. In breadth they decrease from above downward; in the upper ten the greatest breadth is at the sternal extremity.


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