Descending aorta

Last revised by Dr Sachintha Hapugoda on 09 Oct 2017

The descending aorta is the continuation of the aortic arch in the posterior mediastinum.

Gross anatomy

The descending aorta commences at the level of the fourth thoracic vertebra body, on its left, in the plane of Ludwig as the continuation of the aortic arch. It descends in the posterior mediastinum initially on the left of the thoracic vertebral bodies, but then in the midline. It exits the thorax by continuing as the abdominal aorta at the aortic diaphragmatic hiatus at the level of the twelfth thoracic vertebra 1.



​Anteriorly (from superior to inferior):

Posteriorly (from superior to inferior):

To the right (from superior to inferior):

To the left (from superior to inferior):

  • left pleura and lung
  • lower esophagus

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: thoracic aorta
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  • Figure 2: mediastinum (Gray's illustration)
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