Right subphrenic space

Last revised by Calum Worsley on 18 Jun 2022

The right subphrenic space (a.k.a. right anterior space, right subdiaphragmatic space) is a potential space that lies between the right lobe of the liver and the inferior surface of the diaphragm.

Gross anatomy

The space is a subcompartment of the supracolic compartment. It reaches as far as the upper boundary of the bare area of the liver.

The right subphrenic space is incompletely separated from the left subphrenic space by the falciform ligament 5.


The right subphrenic space communicates with the right paracolic gutter laterally, and inferiorly with the right subhepatic space. The posterior part of right subhepatic space is known as the Morison pouch. The anterior portion of the right subhepatic space communicates with the lesser sac through the epiploic foramen 5

Related pathology

Intraperitoneal seeding of pelvic malignancies, particularly ovarian cancers, can occur in the right subphrenic and subhepatic spaces by transcoelomic spread up through the right paracolic gutter 1.  Likewise, the right paracolic gutter also acts as a conduit for pelvic infections to track up into the right subphrenic and subhepatic spaces 2. Right subphrenic abscesses are often secondary to intra-abdominal sepsis (e.g. peritonitis, ruptured liver abscess, ruptured appendicular abscess), and may have an acute or chronic course. Gas accumulation within the space in a case of ruptured hollow viscera can be demonstrated radiologically as free subdiaphragmatic gas.

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