Home » Anatomy » Gross Anatomy » Mediastinum


  • The mediastinum, though thick, is a movable partition that extends superiorly to the thoracic outlet and the root of the neck and inferiorly to the diaphragm.
  • It extends anteriorly to the sternum and posteriorly to the vertebral column


  • Remains of the thymus
  • Heart and large blood vessels
  • Trachea
  • Esophagus
  • Thoracic duct
  • Lymph nodes
  • Vagus and phrenic nerves
  • Sympathetic trunks

Superior Mediastinum

The superior mediastinum is bounded in front by the manubrium sterni and behind by the first four thoracic vertebrae.

Contents include:

  • Thymus
  • Large veins
  • Large arteries
  • Trachea
  • Esophagus and thoracic duct
  • Sympathetic trunks

Inferior Mediastinum

The inferior mediastinum is bounded in front by the body of the sternum and behind by the lower eight thoracic vertebrae.

Contents include:

  • Thymus
  • Heart within the pericardium with the phrenic nerves on each side
  • Esophagus and thoracic duct
  • Descending aorta
  • Sympathetic trunks

Clinical Notes

  • Deflection of Mediastinum
  • Mediastinitis
  • Mediastinal Tumors or Cysts
  • Mediastinoscopy

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