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The ribs connect on the front of the chest with the long flat sternum, or breast bone, and on the back with the vertebral column, creating a cage of protection for the lungs and heart.

Review Date 7/26/2015

Updated by: Dale Mueller, MD, Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeon, HeartCare Midwest; Chairman Department of Cardiovascular Medicine and Surgery, OSF St. Francis Medical Center; and Clinical Associate Professor of Surgery, University of Illinois. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.