Superior mediastinum (overview)

The superior mediastinum is located behind the manubrium of the sternum and anteriorly to the bodies of the first four thoracic vertebrae (T1 - T4). It is continuous with the neck above and the inferior mediastinum below. 


The boundaries of the superior mediastinum are considered the following:



  • Inferiorly - tranverse thoracic plane (a transverse plane passing from the sternal angle to the intervertebral disc between the fourth and fifth vertebrae);





The superior mediastinum contains the following structures: esophagus, trachea, thymus, several nerves (phrenic nerve, vagus nerve (CN X), left recurrent laryngeal nerve), superior vena cava, brachiocephalic veins, aortic arch and its branches, and thoracic duct.