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 extra-pleural intrathoracic cavity by arbitrary lines.

Gross anatomy


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


  • thoracic spine5
  • paraspinal nervous system6
    • thoracic spinal ganglion
    • sympathetic trunk and major branches
    • rami communicantes of intercostal nerves
  • paravertebral soft tissues5
    • proximal intercostal vessels
  • distal azygos-hemiazygos venous system6


  • 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

Related pathology

See also

Thoracic anatomy
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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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