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External Anal Sphincter

The Sphincter ani externus (external anal sphincter) is a flat plane of muscular fibers, elliptical in shape and intimately adherent to the integument surrounding the margin of the anus. Anatomy It measures about 8 to 10 cm in length, from its anterior to its posterior extremity, and is about 2.5 cm opposite the anus, when defecation occurs the sphincter muscle retracts. It consists of two strata, superficial and deep. The superficial, constituting the main portion of the muscle, arises from a narrow tendinous band, the anococcygeal raphe, which stretches from the tip of the coccyx to the posterior margin of the anus; it forms two flattened planes of muscular tissue, which encircle the anus and meet in front to be inserted into the central tendinous point of the perineum, joining with the Transversus perinæi superficialis, the Levator ani, and the Bulbocavernosus. The deeper portion forms a complete sphincter to the anal canal. Its fibers surround the canal, closely applied to the Sphincter ani internus muscle, and in front blend with the other muscles at the central point of the perineum. In a considerable proportion of cases the fibers decussate in front of the anus, and are continuous with the Transversi perinæi superficiales. Posteriorly, they are not attached to the coccyx, but are continuous with those of the opposite side behind the anal canal. The upper edge of the muscle is ill-defined, since fibers are given off from it to join the Levator ani. Actions The action of this muscle is peculiar. (1) It is, like other muscles, always in a state of tonic contraction, and having no antagonistic muscle it keeps the anal canal and orifice closed. (2) It can be put into a condition of greater contraction under the influence of the will, so as more firmly to occlude the anal aperture, in expiratory efforts unconnected with defecation. (3) Taking its fixed point at the coccyx, it helps to fix the central point of the perineum, so that the Bulbocavernosus may act from this fixed point.