Anterior Scalene

Original Editor - Wendy Walker

Lead Editors - Wendy Walker, Kim Jackson and Evan Thomas


Tha anterior scalene, AKA scalenus anterior (or even scalenus anticus) muscle is one of the lateral muscles of the neck, belonging to the scalene group. It is deeply placed, lying behind the Sternocleidomastoid.

It is located between the subclavian vein and the subclavian artery; the roots of the brachial plexus pass posterior to it; the phrenic nerve crosses its anterior surface.

Scalenus anterior - animation04.gif


  • C3-6
  • Anterior tubercles of the transverse processes of the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth cervical vertebrae.


  • 1st rib
  • By a narrow, flat tendon into the scalene tubercle on the inner border of the first rib, and into the ridge on the upper surface of the rib in front of the subclavian groove.

Nerve Supply

  • Brachial plexus, C5-7
  • Anterior branches of the Cervical nerves 5 to 7

Blood Supply

  • Ascending cervical branch of the inferior thyroid artery


Acts with Middle and Posterior Scalenes

When the Scalenes act from above, they elevate the first and second ribs.

Acting from below, they produce side flexion of the vertebral column; if the muscles of both sides act, the vertebral column is slightly flexed.

All 3 scalene muscles produce rotation of the cervical spine to the same side[1].


When acting from above, they help to elevate the 1st rib and are accessory muscles of respiration.

Acting from below they are cervical flexors and rotators.


  1. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2002 Oct;32(10):488-96. Actions of the scalene muscles for rotation of the cervical spine in macaque and human. Buford JA, Yoder SM, Heiss DG, Chidley JV.