The Superficial Fascia.The superficial fascia of the abdomen consists, over the greater part of the abdominal wall, of a single layer containing a variable amount of fat; but near the groin it is easily divisible into two layers, between which are found the superficial vessels and nerves and the superficial inguinal lymph glands.
The superficial layer (fascia of Camper) is thick, areolar in texture, and contains in its meshes a varying quantity of adipose tissue. Below, it passes over the inguinal ligament, and is continuous with the superficial fascia of the thigh. In the male, Campers fascia is continued over the penis and outer surface of the spermatic cord to the scrotum, where it helps to form the dartos. As it passes to the scrotum it changes its characteristics, becoming thin, destitute of adipose tissue, and of a pale reddish color, and in the scrotum it acquires some involuntary muscular fibers. From the scrotum it may be traced backward into continuity with the superficial fascia of the perineum. In the female, Campers fascia is continued from the abdomen into the labia majora.
The deep layer (fascia of Scarpa) is thinner and more membranous in character than the superficial, and contains a considerable quantity of yellow elastic fibers. It is loosely connected by areolar tissue to the aponeurosis of the Obliquus externus abdominis, but in the middle line it is more intimately adherent to the linea alba and to the symphysis pubis, and is prolonged on to the dorsum of the penis, forming the fundiform ligament; above, it is continuous with the superficial fascia over the rest of the trunk; below and laterally, it blends with the fascia lata of the thigh a little below the inguinal ligament; medially and below, it is continued over the penis and spermatic cord to the scrotum, where it helps to form the dartos. From the scrotum it may be traced backward into continuity with the deep layer of the superficial fascia of the perineum (fascia of Colles). In the female, it is continued into the labia majora and thence to the fascia of Colles.
The Obliquus externus abdominis (External or descending oblique muscle) (Fig. 392), situated on the lateral and anterior parts of the abdomen, is the largest and the most superficial of the three flat muscles in this region. It is broad, thin, and irregularly quadrilateral, its muscular portion occupying the side, its aponeurosis the anterior wall of the abdomen. It arises, by eight fleshy digitations, from the external surfaces and inferior borders of the lower eight ribs; these digitations are arranged in an oblique line which runs downward and backward, the upper ones being attached close to the cartilages of the corresponding ribs, the lowest to the apex of the cartilage of the last rib, the intermediate ones to the ribs at some distance from their cartilages. The five superior serrations increase in size from above downward, and are received between corresponding processes of the Serratus anterior; the three lower ones diminish in size from above downward and receive between them corresponding processes from the Latissimus dorsi. From these attachments the fleshy fibers proceed in various directions. Those from the lowest ribs pass nearly vertically downward, and are inserted into the anterior half of the outer lip of the iliac crest; the middle and upper fibers, directed downward and forward, end in an aponeurosis, opposite a line drawn from the prominence of the ninth costal cartilage to the anterior superior iliac spine.
The aponeurosis of the Obliquus externus abdominis is a thin but strong membranous structure, the fibers of which are directed downward and medialward. It is joined with that of the opposite muscle along the middle line, and covers the whole of the front of the abdomen; above, it is covered by and gives origin to the lower fibers of the Pectoralis major; below, its fibers are closely aggregated together, and extend obliquely across from the anterior superior iliac spine to the public tubercle and the pectineal line. In the middle line, it interlaces with the aponeurosis of the opposite muscle, forming the linea alba, which extends from the xiphoid process to the symphysis pubis.
That portion of the aponeurosis which extends between the anterior superior iliac spine and the pubic tubercle is a thick band, folded inward, and continuous below with the fascia lata; it is called the inguinal ligament. The portion which is reflected from the inguinal ligament at the pubic tubercle is attached to the pectineal line and is called the lacunar ligament. From the point of attachment of the latter to the pectineal line, a few fibers pass upward and medialward, behind the medial crus of the subcutaneous inguinal ring, to the linea alba; they diverge as they ascend, and form a thin triangular fibrous band which is called the reflected inguinal ligament.
In the aponeurosis of the Obliquus externus, immediately above the crest of the pubis, is a triangular opening, the subcutaneous inguinal ring, formed by a separation of the fibers of the aponeurosis in this situation.
The Subcutaneous Inguinal Ring (annulus inguinalis subcutaneus; external abdominal ring) (Fig. 393).The subcutaneous inguinal ring is an interval in the aponeurosis of the Obliquus externus, just above and lateral to the crest of the pubis. The aperture is oblique in direction, somewhat triangular in form, and corresponds with the course of the fibers of the aponeurosis. It usually measures from base to apex about 2.5 cm., and transversely about 1.25 cm. It is bounded below by the crest of the pubis; on either side by the margins of the opening in the aponeurosis, which are called the crura of the ring; and above, by a series of curved intercrural fibers. The inferior crus (external pillar) is the stronger and is formed by that portion of the inguinal ligament which is inserted into the pubic tubercle; it is curved so as to form a kind of groove, upon which, in the male, the spermatic cord rests. The superior crus (internal pillar) is a broad, thin, flat band, attached to the front of the symphysis pubis and interlacing with its fellow of the opposite side.
The subcutaneous inguinal ring gives passage to the spermatic cord and ilioinguinal nerve in the male, and to the round ligament of the uterus and the ilioinguinal nerve in the female; it is much larger in men than in women, on account of the large size of the spermatic cord.
The Intercrural Fibers (fibræ intercrurales; intercolumnar fibers).The intercrural fibers are a series of curved tendinous fibers, which arch across the lower part of the aponeurosis of the Obliquus externus, describing curves with the convexities downward. They have received their name from stretching across between the two crura of the subcutaneous inguinal ring, and they are much thicker and stronger at the inferior crus, where they are connected to the inguinal ligament, than superiorly, where they are inserted into the linea alba. The intercrural fibers increase the strength of the lower part of the aponeurosis, and prevent the divergence of the crura from one another; they are more strongly developed in the male than in the female.
As they pass across the subcutaneous inguinal ring, they are connected together by delicate fibrous tissue, forming a fascia, called the intercrural fascia. This intercrural fascia is continued down as a tubular prolongation around the spermatic cord and testis, and encloses them in a sheath; hence it is also called the external spermatic fascia. The subcutaneous inguinal ring is seen as a distinct aperture only after the intercrural fascia has been removed.
The Inguinal Ligament (ligamentum inguinale [Pouparti]; Pouparts ligament) (Fig. 394).The inguinal ligament is the lower border of the aponeurosis of the Obliquus externus, and extends from the anterior superior iliac spine to the pubic tubercle. From this latter point it is reflected backward and lateralward to be attached to the pectineal line for about 1.25 cm., forming the lacunar ligament. Its general direction is convex downward toward the thigh, where it is continuous with the fascia lata. Its lateral half is rounded, and oblique in direction; its medial half gradually widens at its attachment to the pubis, is more horizontal in direction, and lies beneath the spermatic cord.
The Lacunar Ligament (ligamentum lacunare [Gimbernati]; Gimbernats ligament) (Fig. 394).The lacunar ligament is that part of the aponeurosis of the Obliquus externus which is reflected backward and lateralward, and is attached to the pectineal line. It is about 1.25 cm. long, larger in the male than in the female, almost horizontal in direction in the erect posture, and of a triangular form with the base directed lateralward. Its base is concave, thin, and sharp, and forms the medial boundary of the femoral ring. Its apex corresponds to the pubic tubercle. Its posterior margin is attached to the pectineal line, and is continuous with the pectineal fascia. Its anterior margin is attached to the inguinal ligament. Its surfaces are directed upward and downward.
The Reflected Inguinal Ligament (ligamentum inguinale reflexum [Collesi]; triangular fascia).The reflected inguinal ligament is a layer of tendinous fibers of a triangular shape, formed by an expansion from the lacunar ligament and the inferior crus of the subcutaneous inguinal ring. It passes medialward behind the spermatic cord, and expands into a somewhat fan-shaped band, lying behind the superior crus of the subcutaneous inguinal ring, and in front of the inguinal aponeurotic falx, and interlaces with the ligament of the other side of the linea alba (Fig. 396).
Ligament of Cooper.This is a strong fibrous band, which was first described by Sir Astley Cooper. It extends lateralward from the base of the lacunar ligament (Fig. 394) along the pectineal line, to which it is attached. It is strengthened by the pectineal fascia, and by a lateral expansion from the lower attachment of the linea alba (adminiculum lineæ albæ).
Variations.The Obliquus externus may show decrease or doubling of its attachments to the ribs; addition slips from lumbar aponeurosis; doubling between lower ribs and ilium or inguinal ligament. Rarely tendinous inscriptions occur.
The Obliquus internus abdominis (Internal or ascending oblique muscle) (Fig. 395), thinner and smaller than the Obliquus externus, beneath which it lies, is of an irregularly quadrilateral form, and situated at the lateral and anterior parts of the abdomen. It arises, by fleshy fibers, from the lateral half of the grooved upper surface of the inguinal ligament, from the anterior two-thirds of the middle lip of the iliac crest, and from the posterior lamella of the lumbodorsal fascia. From this origin the fibers diverge; those from the inguinal ligament, few in number and paler in color than the rest, arch downward and medialward across the spermatic cord in the male and the round ligament of the uterus in the female, and, becoming tendinous, are inserted, conjointly with those of the Transversus, into the crest of the pubis and medial part of the pectineal line behind the lacunar ligament, forming what is known as the inguinal aponeurotic falx. Those from the anterior third of the iliac origin are horizontal in their direction, and, becoming tendinous along the lower fourth of the linea semilunaris, pass in front of the Rectus abdominis to be inserted into the linea alba. Those arising from the middle third of the iliac origin run obliquely upward and medialward, and end in an aponeurosis; this divides at the lateral border of the Rectus into two lamellæ, which are continued forward, one in front of and the other behind this muscle, to the linea alba: the posterior lamella has an attachment to the cartilages of the seventh, eighth, and ninth ribs. The most posterior fibers pass almost vertically upward, to be inserted into the inferior borders of the cartilages of the three lower ribs, being continuous with the Intercostales interni.
Variations.Occasionally, tendinous inscriptions occur from the tips of the tenth or eleventh cartilages or even from the ninth; an additional slip to the ninth cartilage is sometimes found; separation between iliac and inguinal parts may occur.
The Cremaster(Fig. 396) is a thin muscular layer, composed of a number of fasciculi which arise from the middle of the inguinal ligament where its fibers are continuous with those of the Obliquus internus and also occasionally with the Transversus. It passes along the lateral side of the spermatic cord, descends with it through the subcutaneous inguinal ring upon the front and sides of the cord, and forms a series of loops which differ in thickness and length in different subjects. At the upper part of the cord the loops are short, but they become in succession longer and longer, the longest reaching down as low as the testis, where a few are inserted into the tunica vaginalis. These loops are united together by areolar tissue, and form a thin covering over the cord and testis, the cremasteric fascia. The fibers ascend along the medial side of the cord, and are inserted by a small pointed tendon into the tubercle and crest of the pubis and into the front of the sheath of the Rectus abdominis.
The Transversus abdominis (Transversalis muscle) (Fig. 397), so called from the direction of its fibers, is the most internal of the flat muscles of the abdomen, being placed immediately beneath the Obliquus internus. It arises, by fleshy fibers, from the lateral third of the inguinal ligament, from the anterior three-fourths of the inner lip of the iliac crest, from the inner surfaces of the cartilages of the lower six ribs, interdigitating with the diaphragm, and from the lumbodorsal fascia. The muscle ends in front in a broad aponeurosis, the lower fibers of which curve downward and medialward, and are inserted, together with those of the Obliquus internus, into the crest of the pubis and pectineal line, forming the inguinal aponeurotic falx. Throughout the rest of its extent the aponeurosis passes horizontally to the middle line, and is inserted into the linea alba; its upper three-fourths lie behind the Rectus and blend with the posterior lamella of the aponeurosis of the Obliquus internus; its lower fourth is in front of the Rectus.
Variations.It may be more or less fused with the Obliquus internus or absent. The spermatic cord may pierce its lower border. Slender muscle slips from the ileopectineal line to transversalis fascia, the aponeurosis of the Transversus abdominis or the outer end of the linea semicircularis and other slender slips are occasionally found.
The inguinal aponeurotic falx (falx aponeurotica inguinalis; conjoined tendon of Internal oblique and Transversalis muscle) of the Obliquus internus and Transversus is mainly formed by the lower part of the tendon of the Transversus, and is inserted into the crest of the pubis and pectineal line immediately behind the subcutaneous inguinal ring, serving to protect what would otherwise be aweak point in the abdominal wall. Lateral to the falx is a ligamentous band connected with the lower margin of the Transversus and extending down in front of the inferior epigastric artery to the superior ramus of the pubis; it is termed the interfoveolar ligament of Hesselbach(Fig. 398) and sometimes contains a few muscular fibers.
FIG. 397 The Transversus abdominis, Rectus abdominis, and Pyramidalis. (See enlarged image)
The Rectus abdominis(Fig. 397) is a long flat muscle, which extends along the whole length of the front of the abdomen, and is separated from its fellow of the opposite side by the linea alba. It is much broader, but thinner, above than below, and arises by two tendons; the lateral or larger is attached to the crest of the pubis, the medial interlaces with its fellow of the opposite side, and is connected with the ligaments covering the front of the symphysis pubis. The muscle is inserted by three portions of unequal size into the cartilages of the fifth, sixth, and seventh ribs. The upper portion, attached principally to the cartilage of the fifth rib, usually has some fibers of insertion into the anterior extremity of the rib itself. Some fibers are occasionally connected with the costoxiphoid ligaments, and the side of the xiphoid process.
The Rectus is crossed by fibrous bands, three in number, which are named the tendinous inscriptions; one is usually situated opposite the umbilicus, one at the extremity of the xiphoid process, and the third about midway between the xiphoid process and the umbilicus. These inscriptions pass transversely or obliquely across the muscle in a zigzag course; they rarely extend completely through its substance and may pass only halfway across it; they are intimately adherent in front to the sheath of the muscle. Sometimes one or two additional inscriptions, generally incomplete, are present below the umbilicus.
FIG. 398 The interfoveolar ligament, seen from in front. (Modified from Braune.) (See enlarged image)
The Rectus is enclosed in a sheath (Fig. 399) formed by the aponeuroses of the Obliqui and Transversus, which are arranged in the following manner. At the lateral margin of the Rectus, the aponeurosis of the Obliquus internus divides into two lamellæ, one of which passes in front of the Rectus, blending with the aponeurosis of the Obliquus externus, the other, behind it, blending with the aponeurosis of the Transversus, and these, joining again at the medial border of the Rectus, are inserted into the linea alba. This arrangement of the aponeurosis exists from the costal margin to midway between the umbilicus and symphysis pubis, where the posterior wall of the sheath ends in a thin curved margin, the linea semicircularis, the concavity of which is directed downward: below this level the aponeuroses of all three muscles pass in front of the Rectus. The Rectus, in the situation where its sheath is deficient below, is separated from the peritoneum by the transversalis fascia (Fig. 400). Since the tendons of the Obliquus internus and Transversus only reach as high as the costal margin, it follows that above this level the sheath of the Rectus is deficient behind, the muscle resting directly on the cartilages of the ribs, and being covered merely by the tendon of the Obliquus externus.
The Pyramidalis(Fig. 397) is a small triangular muscle, placed at the lower part of the abdomen, in front of the Rectus, and contained in the sheath of that muscle. It arises by tendinous fibers from the front of the pubis and the anterior pubic ligament; the fleshy portion of the muscle passes upward, diminishing in size as it ascends, and ends by a pointed extremity which is inserted into the linea alba, midway between the umbilicus and pubis. This muscle may be wanting on one or both sides; the lower end of the Rectus then becomes proportionately increased in size. Occasionally it is double on one side, and the muscles of the two sides are sometimes of unequal size. It may extend higher than the level stated.
Nerves.The abdominal muscles are supplied by the lower intercostal nerves. The Obliquus internus and Transversus also receive filaments from the anterior branch of the iliohypogastric and sometimes from the ilioinguinal. The Cremaster is supplied by the external spermatic branch of the genitofemoral and the Pyramidalis usually by the twelfth thoracic.
The Linea Alba.The linea alba is a tendinous raphé in the middle line of the abdomen, stretching between the xiphoid process and the symphysis pubis. It is placed between the medial borders of the Recti, and is formed by the blending of the aponeuroses of the Obliqui and Transversi. It is narrow below, corresponding to the linear interval existing between the Recti; but broader above, where these muscles diverge from one another. At its lower end the linea alba has a double attachmentits superficial fibers passing in front of the medial heads of the Recti to the symphysis pubis, while its deeper fibers form a triangular lamella, attached behind the Recti to the posterior lip of the crest of the pubis, and named the adminiculum lineæ albæ. It presents apertures for the passage of vessels and nerves; the umbilicus, which in the fetus exists as an aperture and transmits the umbilical vessels, is closed in the adult.
FIG. 400 Diagram of a transverse section through the anterior abdomina wall, below the linea semicircularis. (See enlarged image)
The Lineæ Semilunares.The lineæ semilunares are two curved tendinous lines placed one on either side of the linea alba. Each corresponds with the lateral border of the Rectus, extends from the cartilage of the ninth rib to the pubic tubercle, and is formed by the aponeurosis of the Obliquus internus at its line of division to enclose the Rectus, reinforced in front by that of the Obliquus externus, and behind by that of the Transversus.
Actions.When the pelvis and thorax are fixed, the abdominal muscles compress the abdominal viscera by constricting the cavity of the abdomen, in which action they are materially assisted by the descent of the diaphragm. By these means assistance is given in expelling the feces from the rectum, the urine from the bladder, the fetus from the uterus, and the contents of the stomach in vomiting.
If the pelvis and vertebral column be fixed, these muscles compress the lower part of the thorax, materially assisting expiration. If the pelvis alone be fixed, the thorax is bent directly forward, when the muscles of both sides act; when the muscles of only one side contract, the trunk is bent toward that side and rotated toward the opposite side.
If the thorax be fixed, the muscles, acting together, draw the pelvis upward, as in climbing; or, acting singly, they draw the pelvis upward, and bend the vertebral column to one side or the other. The Recti, acting from below, depress the thorax, and consequently flex the vertebral column; when acting from above, they flex the pelvis upon the vertebral column. The Pyramidales are tensors of the linea alba.
The Transversalis Fascia.The transversalis fascia is a thin aponeurotic membrane which lies between the inner surface of the Transversus and the extraperitoneal fat. It forms part of the general layer of fascia lining the abdominal parietes, and is directly continuous with the iliac and pelvic fasciæ. In the inguinal region, the transversalis fascia is thick and dense in structure and is joined by fibers from the aponeurosis of the Transversus, but it becomes thin as it ascends to the diaphragm, and blends with the fascia covering the under surface of this muscle. Behind, it is lost in the fat which covers the posterior surfaces of the kidneys. Below, it has the following attachments: posteriorly, to the whole length of the iliac crest, between the attachments of the Transversus and Iliacus; between the anterior superior iliac spine and the femoral vessels it is connected to the posterior margin of the inguinal ligament, and is there continuous with the iliac fascia. Medial to the femoral vessels it is thin and attached to the pubis and pectineal line, behind the inguinal aponeurotic falx, with which it is united; it descends in front of the femoral vessels to form the anterior wall of the femoral sheath. Beneath the inguinal ligament it is strengthened by a band of fibrous tissue, which is only loosely connected to the ligament, and is specialized as the deep crural arch. The spermatic cord in the male and the round ligament of the uterus in the female pass through the transversalis fascia at a spot called the abdominal inguinal ring. This opening is not visible externally, since the transversalis fascia is prolonged on these structures as the infundibuliform fascia.
The Abdominal Inguinal Ring (annulus inguinalis abdominis; internal or deep abdominal ring).The abdominal inguinal ring is situated in the transversalis fascia, midway between the anterior superior iliac spine and the symphysis pubis, and about 1.25 cm. above the inguinal ligament (Fig. 401). It is of an oval form, the long axis of the oval being vertical; it varies in size in different subjects, and is much larger in the male than in the female. It is bounded, above and laterally, by the arched lower margin of the Transversus; below and medially, by the inferior epigastric vessels. It transmits the spermatic cord in the male and the round ligament of the uterus in the female. From its circumference a thin funnel-shaped membrane, the infundibuliform fascia, is continued around the cord and testis, enclosing them in a distinct covering.
The Inguinal Canal (canalis inguinalis; spermatic canal).The inguinal canal contains the spermatic cord and the ilioinguinal nerve in the male, and the round ligament of the uterus and the ilioinguinal nerve in the female. It is an oblique canal about 4 cm. long, slanting downward and medialward, and placed parallel with and a little above the inguinal ligament; it extends from the abdominal inguinal ring to the subcutaneous inguinal ring. It is bounded, in front, by the integument and superficial fascia, by the aponeurosis of the Obliquus externus throughout its whole length, and by the Obliquus internus in its lateral third; behind, by the reflected inguinal ligament, the inguinal aponeurotic falx, the transversalis fascia, the extraperitoneal connective tissue and the peritoneum; above, by the arched fibers of Obliquus internus and Transversus abdominis; below, by the union of the transversalis fascia with the inguinal ligament, and at its medial end by the lacunar ligament.
Extraperitoneal Connective Tissue.Between the inner surface of the general layer of the fascia which lines the interior of the abdominal and pelvic cavities, and the peritoneum, there is a considerable amount of connective tissue, termed the extraperitoneal or subperitoneal connective tissue.
The parietal portion lines the cavity in varying quantities in different situations. It is especially abundant on the posterior wall of the abdomen, and particularly around the kidneys, where it contains much fat. On the anterior wall of the abdomen, except in the public region, and on the lateral wall above the iliac crest, it is scanty, and here the transversalis fascia is more closely connected with the peritoneum. There is a considerable amount of extraperitoneal connective tissue in the pelvis.
The visceral portion follows the course of the branches of the abdominal aorta between the layers of the mesenterics and other folds of peritoneum which connect the various viscera to the abdominal wall. The two portions are directly continuous with each other.
The Deep Crural Arch.Curving over the external iliac vessels, at the spot where they become femoral, on the abdominal side of the inguinal ligaments and loosely connected with it, is a thickened band of fibers called the deep crural arch. It is apparently a thickening of the transversalis fascia joined laterally to the center of the lower margin of the inguinal ligament, and arching across the front of the femoral sheath to be inserted by a broad attachment into the pubic tubercle and pectineal line, behind the inguinal aponeurotic falx. In some subjects this structure is not very prominently marked, and not infrequently it is altogether wanting.
The Fascia Covering the Quadratus Lumborum.This is a thin layer attached, medially, to the bases of the transverse processes of the lumbar vertebræ; below, to the iliolumbar ligament; above, to the apex and lower border of the last rib. The upper margin of this fascia, which extends from the transverse process of the first lumbar vertebra to the apex and lower border of the last rib, constitutes the lateral lumbocostal arch (page 405). Laterally, it blends with the lumbodorsal fascia, the anterior layer of which intervenes between the Quadratus lumborum and the Sacrospinalis.
The Quadratus lumborum (Fig. 389, page 398) is irregularly quadrilateral in shape, and broader below than above. It arises by aponeurotic fibers from the iliolumbar ligament and the adjacent portion of the iliac crest for about 5 cm., and is inserted into the lower border of the last rib for about half its length, and by four small tendons into the apices of the transverse processes of the upper four lumbar vertebræ. Occasionally a second portion of this muscle is found in front of the preceding. It arises from the upper borders of the transverse processes of the lower three or four lumbar vertebræ, and is inserted into the lower margin of the last rib. In front of the Quadratus lumborum are the colon, the kidney, the Psoas major and minor, and the diaphragm; between the fascia and the muscle are the twelfth thoracic, ilioinguinal, and iliohypogastric nerves.
Actions.The Quadratus lumborum draws down the last rib, and acts as a muscle of inspiration by helping to fix the origin of the diaphragm. If the thorax and vertebral column are fixed, it may act upon the pelvis, raising it toward its own side when only one muscle is put in action; and when both muscles act together, either from below or above, they flex the trunk.