Superior thoracic aperture
Citation, DOI and article data
The superior thoracic aperture, also known as the thoracic inlet or outlet, connects the root of the neck with the thorax.
The superior thoracic aperture is kidney-shaped and lies in an oblique transverse plane, tilted anteroinferiorly to posterosuperiorly. It is roughly 10 cm in transverse dimension and 5 cm in AP dimension.
- posteriorly: T1 vertebral body and costovertebral joints
- laterally: first ribs and their costal cartilages
- anteriorly: superior border of the manubrium
The list of structures that pass through the superior thoracic aperture is long and can be divided into five groups: midline, bilateral, posteriorly, and asymmetric left and right.
- midline from anterior to posterior
- laterally on both sides
- posteriorly from medial to lateral
- on the left:
- on the right
Variant structures that course through include:
- left vertebral artery from the aortic arch
- left brachiocephalic trunk
- right common carotid artery
- right subclavian artery
- right-sided thoracic duct
- 1. Chiles C, Davis KW, Williams DW. Navigating the thoracic inlet. Radiographics. 1999;19 (5): 1161-76. doi:10.1148/radiographics.19.5.g99se031161 - Pubmed citation
- 2. Brant WE, Helms CA. Fundamentals of Diagnostic Radiology. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. (2007) ISBN:0781761352. Read it at Google Books - Find it at Amazon
- 3. Kulkarni NVM. Clinical Anatomy:. Jaypee Brothers Medical Pub. ISBN:9350254972. Read it at Google Books - Find it at Amazon