Last revised by Sonam Vadera on 27 Aug 2019

The carina is the sagittally-oriented cartilaginous ridge at the bifurcation of the trachea and is an important reference point in chest imaging.

Gross anatomy

The carina represents the inferior termination of the trachea into the right and left main bronchi.

The carina usually sits at the level of the sternal angle and the T4/T5 vertebral level in the thoracic plane.

History and etymology

"Carina" ultimately derives from Latin, meaning "keel of a boat" 1. The term was originally used in botany to indicate a projecting ridge on the back of an organ.

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: right sided bronchi
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  • Figure 2: left sided bronchi
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