Intercostal spaces are the spaces in between the 2 adjacent ribs and their costal cartilages. There are 11 intercostal spaces on each side.

The nerve and blood supply of 3rd-6th intercostal spaces is limited only upto the thorax due to which these 3rd-6th spaces are typical intercostal spaces.

Anterolateral view and details of an Intercostal Space and Relationships


Intercostal Space

Transverse Section


Transverse section of Intercostal Space

Contents Of A Typical Intercostal Space

Every space includes these structures:.

1. 3 intercostal muscles, viz.

  • External intercostal.
  • Internal intercostal.
  • Innermost intercostal (intercostalis intimus).

2. Intercostal nerves.

3. Intercostal arteries.

4. Intercostal veins.

5. Intercostal lymph vessels and lymph nodes.

Plane of neurovascular bundle in the intercostal space: The neurovascular bundle being composed of intercostal nerve and vessels is located between the internal intercostal and innermost intercostal muscles, i.e., between the intermediate and deepest layers of muscles.

They may be ordered in the following sequence from above downwards:

1. Intercostal Vein.

2. Intercostal Artery.

3. Intercostal Nerve.

( Mnemonic: VAN).