UAMS Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences - Topographical Anatomy of the Thorax

Gross Anatomy


Topographical Anatomy of the Thorax - Listed Alphabetically

Structure/Space Description/Boundaries Significance
midaxillary line an imaginary vertical line passing through the middle of the axilla used as a surface landmark for descriptive purposes
midclavicular line an imaginary vertical line passing through the midshaft of the clavicle used as a surface landmark for descriptive purposes
nipple located superficial to the 4th intercostal space in the male and prepuberal female location of the left nipple may be used to help locate the apex of heart, which is approximately 8 cm from the midline in the left 5th intercostal space; a surface landmark used to place the stethoscope for auscultation of the bicuspid valve
sternal angle a protrusion on the anterior thoracic wall at the junction of the manubrium and body of the sternum (manubriosternal symphysis) sternal angle is the location of the attachment of t the costal cartilage of the 2nd rib to the sternum; an imaginary horizontal plane through the sternal angle passes through the T4/T5 intervertebral disc and marks the inferior boundary of the superior mediastinum
suprasternal notch the notch located at the superior border of the manubrium of the sternum, between the sternal ends of the clavicles also known as: jugular notch
thoracic inlet the opening at the superior end of the rib cage through which cervical structures enter the thorax; bounded by the T1 vertebral body, both of the 1st ribs and their costal cartilages, and the manubrium of the sternum thoracic inlet marks the boundary between the neck and the superior mediastinum; also known as: superior thoracic aperture
thoracic outlet the opening at the inferior end of the rib cage through which thoracic structures exit the thorax; it is bounded by the T12 vertebral body, both 12th ribs, the costal cartilages of ribs 7-12, and the xiphisternal joint thoracic outlet is closed by the respiratory diaphragm which is attached at its boundary; also known as: inferior thoracic aperture


Some of the material presented in these tables is contained in the book:
MedCharts Anatomy by Thomas R. Gest and Jaye Schlesinger
Published by ILOC, Inc., New York. Copyright 1995.

The content of these tables has been edited for use in this course by Patrick W. Tank, Ph.D.
Copyright 2009, Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Unauthorized use is prohibited.




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