Tracheal diverticulum

Tracheal diverticula are usually an incidental finding. Occasionally it may mimic pneumomediastinum, so-called pseudopneumomediastinum.

There is overlap in the use and description of the terms paratracheal air cyst and tracheal diverticulum in the literature that they often seem to be synonyms for the same entity 1,5

Tracheal diverticula are typically asymptomatic but can occasionally present with chronic cough, stridor, dyspnea or recurrent infection 5

Tracheal diverticula can be 5:

  • congenital
  • acquired
    • prolonged increase intraluminal pressure, e.g. chronic cough, COPD
    • tracheomalacia
    • iatrogenic, e.g. post-surgical

It projects posteriorly where the cartilage rings are deficient and usually lies to the right where there is no esophagus supporting the paratracheal tissue. The vast majority (97%) are located to the right posterolateral aspect of the trachea, about the level of the thoracic inlet 5. A direct connection with the trachea may not always be shown on CT 5.  

Although usually asymptomatic, it may accumulate respiratory secretions that become infected (and potentially abscess-forming) and lead to coughing or tracheobronchitis. 

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Article information

rID: 2188
System: Chest
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Tracheal diverticula
  • Diverticulum of trachea

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Cases and figures

  • A tracheal divert...
    Case 1: CT of tracheal diverticulum
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  • Case 2
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  • Case 2: coronal
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  • Case 2: axial
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  • Case 3
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  • Case 4
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