The sternalis muscle (musculus sternalis) is the name usually given to this common anatomical variant, but the terms ‘episternalis’, ‘presternalis’, ‘sternalis brutorum’, ‘rectus thoracis’, ‘rectus sterni’, ‘superficial rectus abdominis’ and ‘japonicus’ have also been used in the literature (for reviews see Le Double, 1879; Calori, 1888; Pichler, 1911; Blees, 1968). According to Turner (1867), Cabrolius was the first, in 1604, to describe sternalis. Nevertheless this muscle is often unknown even in clinical practice (Bailey & Tzarnas, 1999; Vandeweyer, 1999).
Thus far, investigations on the incidence of sternalis have been made both in large populations such as the American (Barlow, 1935) and small populations, for example in Taiwan (Shen et al. 1992; Jeng & Su, 1998). In Europe, all studies on the frequency of this muscle have been made amongst subpopulations in Western (e.g. Cunningham, 1888; Le Double, 1890, 1897) and Northern Europe (Gruber, 1860) although the reported frequencies have been quite different. There is a lack of information about sternalis in Eastern European populations. We therefore present data from a study on the incidence of sternalis muscle in Bulgaria.