Retrosternal airspace

Last revised by Owen Kang on 27 Jul 2022

The retrosternal airspace is seen as a normal lucency between the posterior aspect of the sternum and anterior aspect of the ascending aorta on lateral chest radiographs. This space normally measures less than 2.5 cm in width. Increased retrosternal airspace is a sign of pulmonary emphysema, while obliteration of the retrosternal airspace is an indication of an anterior mediastinal mass.  

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: normal
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  • Case 2: increased in emphysema
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  • Case 3: obliterated in lymphoma
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