Transversus abdominis muscle

Last revised by Assoc Prof Craig Hacking on 15 Aug 2021

The transversus abdominis muscle, named according to the direction of its muscle fibers, is one of the flat muscles that form the anterior abdominal wall. It is deep to the internal oblique muscle and ends in the anterior aponeurosis, which ultimately blends with the linea alba

The transversus abdominis is the deepest of the lateral abdominal muscles (the others being the external and internal oblique muscles). It contributes mainly to maintain abdominal tone and can increase intra-abdominal pressure when it contracts. 

It attaches to the lateral one-thirds of the inguinal ligament and the associated iliac fascia, the inner lip of the anterior 2/3rds of the iliac crest, the thoracolumbar fascia between the iliac crest and the 12th rib, and the costal cartilages of ribs 7-12. It ends in the anterior aponeurosis, with the majority of its fibers blending into the linea alba. The lower fibers curve medially and posteriorly to form the roof of the inguinal canal with those of the internal oblique muscle to insert into the pectineal line and pubic crest which forms the conjoint tendon. The posterior and inferior aspect contributes fibers to the interfoveolar ligament

As a flat muscle, the vascular supply of the transversus abdominis includes the posterior intercostal and subcostal arteries, superior and inferior epigastric arteries, superficial and deep circumflex arteries and posterior lumbar arteries.

It is innervated by the terminal branches of intercostal nerves T7-T12, the subcostal nerve (T12), the iliohypogastric nerve (L1) and ilioinguinal nerves (L1). These nerves arise from the ventral rami of the spinal nerves of T7-L1, and this is the simplified description of innervation described in anatomy textbooks. 

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: transversus abdominus (Gray's illustrations)
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  • Figure 2
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  • Figure 3: rectus sheath (diagram)
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