Superior pulmonary sulcus

Last revised by Assoc Prof Craig Hacking on 14 Jan 2020

The superior pulmonary sulcus (or just the superior sulcus) has been variously and inconsistently used in the past to refer to various structures in the pulmonary apex, both extrapulmonary and also a groove in the lung surface itself. It is now the majority opinion that no such structure exists; indeed the Nomina Anatomica stated that the sulcus was an anatomical furrow in the vertebrae caused by the posterior most portion of the rib as it passed anterior to the spinal column 1.

It arose from Pancoast's mistaken belief that the entity he described originated from an extrapulmonary tissue 2. By the same token, it is advised that the term superior sulcus tumor should be abandoned in favor of Pancoast tumor or simply apical lung tumor. As long ago as 1956, an article stated that the use of this term by specialists was already obsolete 1.

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