Thoracic plane

Last revised by Assoc Prof Craig Hacking on 27 Mar 2018

The thoracic plane, also known as the transthoracic plane or the plane of Ludwig is an artificial horizontal plane used to divide the mediastinum into the superior mediastinum and the inferior mediastinum.

It is defined as a horizontal line that runs from the manubriosternal joint (sternal angle or angle of Louis) to the inferior endplate of T4 1. Above the thoracic plane is the superior mediastinum and below the thoracic plane is the inferior mediastinum. 

A number of important structures are transected by the thoracic plane 1:

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