Surgical and Radiologic Anatomy

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 35–42 | Cite as

Pectoral and femoral fasciae: common aspects and regional specializations

  • A. Stecco
  • V. Macchi
  • S. Masiero
  • A. Porzionato
  • C. Tiengo
  • C. Stecco
  • V. Delmas
  • R. De CaroEmail author
Original Article


The aim of this study was to analyse the organization of the deep fascia of the pectoral region and of the thigh. Six unembalmed cadavers (four men, two women, age range 48–93 years old) were studied by dissection and by histological (HE, van Gieson and azan-Mallory) and immunohistochemical (anti S-100) stains; morphometric studies were also performed in order to evaluate the thickness of the deep fascia in the different regions. The pectoral fascia is a thin lamina (mean thickness ± SD: 297 ± 37 μm), adherent to the pectoralis major muscle via numerous intramuscular fibrous septa that detach from its inner surface. Many muscular fibres are inserted into both sides of the septa and into the fascia. The histological study demonstrates that the pectoral fascia is formed by a single layer of undulated collagen fibres, intermixed with many elastic fibres. In the thigh, the deep fascia (fascia lata) is independent from the underlying muscle, separated by the epimysium and a layer of loose connective tissue. The fascia lata presents a mean thickness of 944 μm (±102 μm) and it is formed by bundles of collagen fibres, arranged in two to three layers. In each layer, the fibres are parallel to each other, whereas the orientation of the fibres varies from one layer to the adjacent one. The van Gieson elastic fibres stain highlights the presence of elastic fibres only in the more external layer of the fascia lata. In the thigh the epimysium is easily recognizable under the deep fascia and presents a mean thickness of 48 μm. Both the fascia lata and pectoral fascia result innerved, no specific differences in density or type of innervations is highlighted. The deep fascia of the pectoral region is morphologically and functionally different from that of the thigh: the fascia lata is a relatively autonomous structure with respect to the underlying muscular plane, while the pectoralis fascia acts as an additional insertion for the pectoralis major muscle. Different portions of the pectoralis major muscle are activated according to the glenohumeral joint movements and, consequently, selective portions of the pectoral fascia are stretched, activating specific patterns of proprioceptors. So, the pectoralis muscle has to be considered together with its fascia, and so as a myofascial unit, acting as an integrated control motor system.


Fascia lata Iliotibial tract Pectoral fascia Myofascial unit Connective tissue 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Stecco
    • 1
  • V. Macchi
    • 2
  • S. Masiero
    • 1
  • A. Porzionato
    • 2
  • C. Tiengo
    • 2
  • C. Stecco
    • 2
  • V. Delmas
    • 3
  • R. De Caro
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Physical Medicine and RehabilitationUniversity of PadovaPadovaItaly
  2. 2.Section of Anatomy, Department of Human Anatomy and PhysiologyUniversity of PadovaPadovaItaly
  3. 3.Department of AnatomyUniversité Paris DescartesParisFrance

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