Posterior tracheal stripe

Dr Henry Knipe et al.

The posterior tracheal stripe (line) is formed by air in the trachea and air in the right lung outlining the intervening posterior wall of the trachea and soft tissue. It is seen on lateral chest x-rays and normally measures less than 2.5 mm in width 1, 2. Abnormal thickening has a variety of causes 1, 2:

The posterior tracheal stripe can also normally appear thickened, measuring up to 5.5 mm, and is then called the tracheo-oesophgeal stripe and is formed by the interface of the posterior wall of the trachea with the anterior wall of the oesophagus (instead of the right lung) 2.

The posterior tracheal stripe/tracheo-oesophageal stripe forms the anterior border of the retrotracheal space

Radiographic features

Plain radiograph
  • appears as a vertical stripe posterior to the tracheal air column extending from the thoracic inlet to the tracheal bifurcation on lateral chest x-rays 1-3
Chest x-ray
Share article

Article information

rID: 23538
System: Chest
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Tracheo-oesophagel stripe
  • Tracheooesophageal stripe
  • Tracheoesophageal stripe
  • Posterior tracheal line
  • Retrotracheal stripe
  • Retro-tracheal stripe
  • Tracheo-oesophageal stripe

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Updating… Please wait.
Loadinganimation

Alert accept

Error Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.