The Dept of Anaesthesia & Intensive Care, CUHK
Knowledge of the mediastinal contents can aid in your differential diagnosis.
Borders the sternum anteriorly, and the ventral cardiac surface posteriorly. Contents include the thymus, the ascending aorta, lymph nodes, internal mammary artery and vein, fat and adjacent bony structures (ribs and sternum).
Borders the anterior mediastinal compartment anteriorly, and the anterior surface of the spine, posteriorly. Contents include the heart, proximal pulmonary arteries and veins (hila), superior and inferior vena cava, esophagus (usually not visible), vagus nerve, recurrent laryngeal nerve, trachea and proximal bronchial tree.
Borders the anterior surface of the spine posteriorly to the ribs. Contents include the descending aorta, the azygous and hemiazygous veins, adjacent bony structures (the spine and ribs) and spinal cord with nerve roots.
Lower border is a horizontal line drawn from the angle of Louis posteriorly to the spine. Contents include the thyroid gland, aortic arch and great vessels, proximal portions of the vagus and recurrent laryngeal nerves, the esophagus and trachea.
Superior mediastinal (thyroid) mass
Signs of pneumomediastinum include lucencies around the great vessels, the medial border of the superior vena cava, and the azygos vein. Air may also be seen outlining the aortic arch, descending aorta, or the pulmonary arteries.
Pneumopericardium appears as a lucent area around the heart extending up to the main pulmonary arteries. A lucent line running along the inferior border of the heart and crossing the midline is diagnostic for pneumopericardium.
© Gavin Joynt, June 2005
May, 2013 unless
otherwise stated. The author, editor and The Chinese University of Hong Kong
take no responsibility for any adverse event resulting from the use of this