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:
- Superiorly - superior thoracic aperture;
- Inferiorly - tranverse thoracic plane (a transverse plane passing from the sternal angle to the intervertebral disc between the fourth and fifth vertebrae);
- Laterally - mediastinal part of the parietal pleura on each side;
- Anteriorly - manubrium of the sternum;
- Posteriorly: vertebrae T1 - T4.
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.