Increased retrosternal airspace

Last revised by Dr Owen Kang on 27 Jul 2022

Increased retrosternal airspace is an indicator of hyperinflation of the lungs and is usually due to emphysema.

The thickness of the space between the ascending aorta and the posterior margin of the sternum (3 cm inferior to the sternomanubrial joint) and is normally no more than 2.5 cm 1 although some authors say up to 4 cm may be normal 2.

See also

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: measurements of hyperinflation of the lungs
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  • Case 1: marked hyperinflation
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  • Case 2
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