What Is the Function of the Sternum?

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The sternum is a long and narrow bone that forms the base of the rib cage and protects several vital chest organs. It is located in the anterior thoracic region, along the midline of the body.

The sternum is comprised of three parts: manubrium, gladiolus and the xiphoid process. The shape of the bone resembles a sword in vertical position with the point downward. The sternum protects the aorta, vena cava, heart and thymus gland. The sternum often needs to be cut in half along the axis during open heart surgery in order to provide access to the heart.