What is the Linea Alba?

While studying animal myology, you might be familiar with the term – linea alba. This article might help you to explore the answer of – what is the linea alba of cows, dogs, and other animals.

Quick answer: linea alba in cows, dogs, and other animals is the white fibrous connective tissue raphe extending from the xiphoid cartilage to the prepubic tendon. This is the most clinically significant structure of the animal’s ventral abdomen.

Here, I will show the formation and extension of the linea alba from the cow and dog’s abdomen. You will also get familiar with two other essential terms – inguinal canal and prepubic tendon from cows and dogs.

Let’s get started to learn the formation and extension of the animal’s linea alba.

What is the linea alba in cows and dogs?

If you want to understand the basic structure of the cows’ and dog’s linea alba, you might have basic knowledge of the abdominal muscles. You know, there are four (4) different muscles in the structure of the cow or dog’s abdomen.

Let’s see the four abdominal muscles from the cow’s abdomen. You will find 2 oblique, 1 transverse, and 1 straight muscle in the structure of a cow abdomen –

  • Externally – obliquus externus abdominis (first layer abdominal muscle),
  • Second layer – obliquus internus abdominis muscles (internal to the obliquus externus),
  • Third layer – transverse abdominis muscle (internal to the obliquus internus), and
  • Ventrolateral wall of the abdomen – straight abdominis muscle (fourth abdominal muscle),

Here, the diagram shows all these above-mentioned abdominal muscles from the cow abdomen structure. Let’s know the details of these cows’ abdominal muscles (including origin, insertion, fiber direction, and functions).

It will be better if you memorize only the fiber direction of these abdominal muscles. Then the origin and insertion for these muscles are easy if you have the basic osteological features of ribs and hip bone.

For that, you may get help from the below-mentioned article on anatomy learners –

From these articles, you will know the surfaces and borders of the cow ribs. Again, you will also get a basic idea of the tuber coxae and other features of the cow hip bone.

Okay, let’s know the origin, insertion, and fiber direction of the cow’s abdominal muscles with the diagram.

Obliquus externus abdominis muscle of a cow

In the description of the obliquus externus abdominis muscle of a cow, you will find the followings –

  • Fiber direction of obliquus externus muscle – ventrally and caudally (backward and ventrad),
  • Origin of obliquus externus abdominis muscle: caudal border and lateral surface of the last eight ribs of the cow. It also arises from the fascia of the intercostal muscles.
  • Insertion – coxal tuber, prepubic tendon, and linea alba of the cow, and
  • The action of obliquus externus abdominis muscle – compression of the abdominal viscera and adding abdominal press.

Obliquus internus abdominis muscle of a cow

This is the second layer of muscle of a cow’s abdomen that lies beneath the obliquus external abdominal muscle. Let’s see the fiber direction, origin, and insertion of the cow’s obliquus internus muscle –

  • Fiber direction of internus muscle – ventrally, cranially, and medial to the obliquus externus abdominis muscle,
  • Origin of this muscle – coxal tuber, deep lumbar fascia, and also from the lateral border of the longissimus lumborum muscle,
  • Insertion of internus muscle – caudal border of the last rib and linea alba. You will also find the insertion of the obliquus internus abdominis muscle of a cow in the prepubic tendon.

You might have a basic idea of – the origin, insertion, and action of the animal muscle. But, you may get help from the previous article where I already described these terms.

Here, the origin is the less moveable part of the two attachments of the muscle. In contrast, the insertion is the more movable segment of the two attachments of a muscle.

Transverse abdominis muscle of a cow

This is the third layer of a cow’s abdomen muscle beneath these two obliquus muscles. Let’s see the fiber direction, origin, and insertion of this transverse abdominis muscle from the cow abdomen anatomy –

  • Fiber direction of cow’s transverse abdomen – verticle or transverse,
  • Origin of transverse abdominis muscle – deep lumbar fascia of five lumbar transverse processes. It also arises from the medial surface of a few false ribs and the caudo-medial surface of thirteen ribs.
  • Insertion of cow’s transverse abdominis muscle – inserts only on the linea alba,

You may learn the osteological facts of the lumbar vertebrae from the cow’s vertebral column –

Now, let’s know the anatomy of the straight abdominal muscle of the cow.

Straight abdominis muscle of a cow abdomen

This straight abdominis muscle of a cow forms the ventral abdominal wall. Here, the straight abdominis muscle extends from the sternum to the pubis bone of a cow.

Let’s know the structure of the cow sternum from the below-mentioned article of anatomy learners –

Fiber direction of this muscle – straight (cranial to caudal),

Origin of straight abdominis muscle of a cow – ventral and lateral surfaces of the sternum (xiphoid cartilage),

Insertion of straight abdominis muscle – prepubic tendon of a cow,

So, the essential structure in the abdominal area of a cow is –

  • Linea alba (white fibrous structure),
  • A prepubic tendon that inserts on iliopubic eminences,
  • Inguinal canal and its structure,

Now, let’s know the formation of the linea alba in the ventral abdominal wall of a cow’s abdomen.

How is linea alba formed in a cow?

Quick answer: the cow linea alba is formed by the union of aponeurotic parts of two obliquus abdominis muscles and transverse abdominis muscles. Thus, the aponeurotic parts from both sides of the muscles join on the ventral midline (on the straight abdminis muscle) and form the linea alba.

This is the fibrous cord-type structure (white line) in the ventral abdominal wall of a cow. You will find less innervation and blood supply in the structure of a linea alba of a cow.

Typically, all the abdominal muscles of a cow are innervated by the caudal intercostal and lumbar nerves. Let’s summarize the cow’s linea alba –

  • Linea alba of a cow – white fibrous cord-like structure,
  • Formation – by the aponeurosis of abdominis muscles,
  • Extension – extends from the xiphoid cartilage to prepubic tendon or pubic symphysis,
  • Linea alba of a cow means – white line of the ventral abdominal wall,
What is Linea Alba in a Cow
What is Linea Alba in a Cow

Where is the linea alba located in a cow?

Quick answer: the linea alba is located in the ventral midline of the abdomen in a cow. It is in the form of a fibrous cord extending from the sternum (xiphoid process) to the prepubic tendon.

But what is a prepubic tendon in a cow? Well, let’s know the prepubic tendon of a cow.

Prepubic tendon of a cow: this is the insertion of two straight abdominis muscles of a cow (both sides). These are two strong binding materials in the ventral abdominal area of a cow. Again, these strong tendons bind the straight abdominis muscle with the iliopubic eminence of a cow hip bone.

Slightly caudal to the middle of a cow’s linea alba, you will find the umbilicus.

What is the inguinal canal of a cow?

Quick answer: the cow inguinal canal is the oblique passageway for the abdominal structure out of the abdomen. This is the collapsed canal or passage between the deep and superficial inguinal rings.

Here, the deep inguinal ring of a cow’s inguinal canal is the internal opening. You will find the following boundaries of the deep inguinal ring of the cow’s inguinal canal –

  • Cranially – caudal border of the obliquus internus abdominal muscle,
  • Caudally – inguinal ligament, and
  • Medially – lateral border of the straight abdominis muscle,

Again, the superficial inguinal ring is the external opening of the inguinal canal of a cow. This is a slit-like aperture in the aponeurosis of the obliquus externus abdominis muscle.

The lateral wall of the cow’s inguinal ring also covers the aponeurosis of the obliquus externus abdominis. Again, the medial wall of the inguinal ring is formed by the fascia of transverse abdominis and also obliquus internus abdominis.

You will find the below-mentioned structures that passage from the cow’s or ox’s inguinal canal –

  • External pudendal artery and vein,
  • Genitofemoral nerves,
  • Spermatic cord and cremaster muscles in ox,

What is the function of linea alba?

Quick answer: two obliquus and one transverse abdominis muscle insert on the linea alba. This linea alba is considered the landmark for abdominal surgical approaches in cows and dogs.

  • Ventral midline incision in dogs and cows – through the avascular linea alba, and
  • Paramedian incision – lateral and parallel to the midline of straight abdominis muscle or linea alba,

But, it will be best if you choose the paramedian incision during any surgical intervention on the ventral abdomen. This is because if you incise along the linea alba, it takes longer to heal.

What is linea alba – with labeled diagram

Here, I will show the structure of the cow’s linea alba with the labeled diagram. The diagram shows the starting point of the linea alba on the ventral and lateral surfaces of the cow’s sternum.

Again, the diagram shows the end part of the linea alba from the cow’s ventral abdominal wall. You will find the aponeurosis of cow abdominal muscles (mainly obliquus and transverse) in the labeled diagram.

Let’s see more diagrams or videos of cow’s abdominal muscles from social media of anatomy learners.

Frequently asked question on linea alba of a cow

Now, let’s see the frequently asked questions on the linea alba of a cow or a dog. But, you might know the information I have already provided on the linea alba structure.

Okay, let’s see the frequently asked questions on cow’s linea alba with their concise answer –

Is linea alba a muscle?

Quick answer: no, the linea alba in a cow is not a muscle. This is the aponeurotic part of the cow’s abdominal muscles.

And the term aponeurosis means the white fibrous connective tissue. This white fibrous connective tissue or aponeurosis connects the abdominal muscles with bone, cartilage, or other structures.

How do you identify the linea alba?

Quick answer: you may easily identify the cow linea alba by its external white fibrous cord-like appearance. While studying the abdominal muscles from the dissected cow, you may quickly identify this linea alba.

But, you may also identify the AREA of linea alba from an external approach. Remember that linea alba is the internal structure of a cow’s ventral abdomen and forms with the aponeurotic parts of muscles.

Is the linea alba a tendon?

Quick answer: no, the cow linea alba is not a tendon. Only the white fibrous or aponeurotic part (white line) of muscle is found in the midventral position of the cow’s abdomen.

Again, this is not a tendon, as the linea alba did not bind the abdominal muscles with any bones.


So, this article reveals the answer to a question – what is the linea alba? The cow or dog’s linea alba is the white line on the midventral part of their abdomen.

The cow’s linea alba extends from the sternum to the prepubic tendon and acts as the essential insertion area for abdominal muscles. Finally, it is essential to understand the structure of the animal’s linea alba for field practice.