Posterior mediastinum

The posterior mediastinum (or paravertebral compartment) is a potential space along the paravertebral sulci. It is conceptually considered a portion of the inferior mediastinum, and separated from the middle mediastinal compartment and the remainder of the extrapleural intrathoracic cavity by arbitrary lines.

It is continuous with the retropharyngeal space via the posterior part of the superior mediastinum.

  • thoracic spine 5
  • paraspinal nervous system 6
    • thoracic spinal ganglion
    • sympathetic trunk and major branches
    • rami communicantes of intercostal nerves
  • paravertebral soft tissues 5
    • proximal intercostal vessels
  • distal azygos-hemiazygos venous system 6
  • superiorly: thoracic inlet
  • inferiorly: diaphragm
  • anteriorly: posterior boundaries of middle mediastinum (1 cm posterior to anterior margin of thoracic vertebral bodies) 5
  • posteriorly: posterior margin of chest wall, along the transverse processes of thoracic vertebrae
  • laterally: mediastinal parietal pleura
Anatomy: Thoracic
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Article information

rID: 30563
System: Chest
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Postvascular space

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Cases and figures

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    Figure 1: mediastinal anatomy (Gray's anatomy illustration)
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    Figure 2: mediastinum (Gray's illustration)
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    Figure 3: annotated CT (blue)
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