supernumerary rib

Supernumerary coast: What is it? (Associated pathologies)

Article reviewed and approved by Dr. Ibtissama Boukas, physician specializing in family medicine 

Supernumerary ribs are uncommon (0,5% to 1% of the general population), and usually appear bilaterally. As a reminder, we have 24 ribs divided into 12 pairs:


rib anatomy


  • 7 pairs attached directly to the sternum
  • 3 pairs tied together
  • 2 pairs of floating ribs


The supernumerary ribs are most often in the form of a cervical rib starting from C7, or even a lumbar rib starting from L1. In extremely rare situations, there may be supernumerary ribs at the sacral, coccygeal, or intrathoracic level.


Patients are often asymptomatic when they present with a supernumerary rib. These are most often discovered incidentally by radiography (for example, following a trauma or an episode of back pain).


supernumerary rib


In some cases, however, patients may experience pain or symptoms due to the presence of the supernumerary rib. We think, for example, of thoracic outlet syndrome where the pains and irradiations appear due to the compression of the brachial plexus.


In addition, an increased number of ribs can be associated with pathologies such as:



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