Anatomy, Thorax, Mediastinum Superior and Great Vessels

In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan.


The mediastinum is a large compartment in the thoracic chest that contains vital structures such as the heart and its major blood vessels, as well as the esophagus, trachea, and additional important structures. The superior mediastinum is a triangle-shaped structure that sits at the upper, anterior portion of the chest. The superior mediastinum is most noteworthy for containing the take-off point of the three great branches of the aortic arch: the brachiocephalic trunk (also known as the innominate artery), the left common carotid artery, and the left subclavian artery. The superior mediastinum also contains the origin of the superior vena cava, the thymus, and portions of the esophagus and trachea. The lower mediastinum also contains the pulmonary arteries, which are the final set of great vessels. This article will focus primarily on the great vessels found in the mediastinum.

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