Neurovasculature of the posterior mediastinum
This study unit will help you to:
- Identify the main arteries of the posterior mediastinum as well as their branches.
- Describe the main veins that drain the posterior mediastinum and their tributaries.
- Name the main nerves of the posterior mediastinum.
The mediastinum is a compartment located in the thoracic cavity, between the two pleural cavities. It is divided into the superior and inferior mediastinum. The inferior mediastinum is further divided into the anterior, middle and posterior mediastinum.
In this study unit, we will focus on the posterior mediastinum, an area located posteriorly to the pericardium and anteriorly to the vertebrae T5-T12. More specifically, we’ll look at the main arteries, veins, and nerves located in this compartment. Major vessels in the posterior mediastinum include the descending thoracic aorta and its branches, as well as the azygos system of veins. The main nerves of the posterior mediastinum include the right vagus nerve, left vagus nerve, the esophageal nerve plexus, and the anterior and posterior vagal trunks. The sympathetic trunks and the thoracic splanchnic nerves, commonly described as part of the posterior mediastinum, are actually located a bit more laterally, on each side of the thoracic vertebral column.
Want to dig deeper into the neurovasculature of the posterior mediastinum? Check out the videos below!
Take a quiz
Test your knowledge on the neurovasculature of the posterior mediastinum by taking our quiz below.
You can also customize your own quiz with our custom quiz creator. On this link, you’ll find the preset for a quiz about all the structures of the mediastinum.
Explore in detail the arteries and veins of the posterior mediastinum in the gallery below.
Take a closer look at the nerves of the posterior mediastinum in the gallery below.
|Arteries||Descending thoracic aorta and its branches (pericardial branches, bronchial branches, esophageal branches, mediastinal branches, posterior intercostal arteries, superior phrenic artery, subcostal artery)|
|Veins||Azygos system of veins (azygos vein, hemiazygos vein, accessory hemiazygos vein), posterior intercostal veins, esophageal veins|
|Nerves||Sympathetic trunks and thoracic splanchnic nerves, right and left vagi nerves, esophageal plexus, anterior and posterior vagal trunks|