Anatomy of the Thorax

  • The thoracic structures are in a relatively closed-in, dome-shaped space, with the ribs, costal cartilage and vertebral column constituting the bony sidewalls; the base is formed by the diaphragm.
  • The lungs within their pleural sacs fill each side of the thorax. The mediastinum contains the heart, trachea, esophagus, aortic arch and descending aorta, the terminal portions of the great veins and the thymus gland.
  • The heart is surrounded by the sturdy pericardial sac, made of a nondistensible fibrous material.
  • The esophagus lies against the vertebral column posteriorly.
  • The great vessels and esophagus pass through openings in the diaphragm into the abdomen.

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