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|Inferior thoracic aperture|
The posterior aspect of the thorax. (Inferior thoracic aperture visible at bottom.)
|Latin||apertura thoracis inferior|
The thoracic outlet is the lower opening of the thoracic cavity whose edges are the lowest ribs. It is closed by the diaphragm, which separates the thoracic cavity from the abdominal cavity. The thoracic outlet or inferior thoracic aperture is much larger than the thoracic inlet (superior thoracic aperture).
The thoracic cavity is the chamber of the body of vertebrates that is protected by the thoracic wall. The central compartment of the thoracic cavity is the mediastinum. There are two openings of the thoracic cavity, a superior thoracic aperture known as the thoracic inlet and a lower inferior thoracic aperture known as the thoracic outlet.
In vertebrate anatomy, ribs are the long curved bones which form the rib cage, part of the axial skeleton. In most tetrapods, ribs surround the chest, enabling the lungs to expand and thus facilitate breathing by expanding the chest cavity. They serve to protect the lungs, heart, and other internal organs of the thorax. In some animals, especially snakes, ribs may provide support and protection for the entire body.
The thoracic diaphragm, or simply the diaphragm, is a sheet of internal skeletal muscle in humans and other mammals that extends across the bottom of the thoracic cavity. The diaphragm separates the thoracic cavity, containing the heart and lungs, from the abdominal cavity and performs an important function in respiration: as the diaphragm contracts, the volume of the thoracic cavity increases, a negative vacuum is created which draws air into the lungs.
The thoracic outlet is bounded by:
In vertebrates, thoracic vertebrae compose the middle segment of the vertebral column, between the cervical vertebrae and the lumbar vertebrae. In humans, there are twelve thoracic vertebrae and they are intermediate in size between the cervical and lumbar vertebrae; they increase in size going towards the lumbar vertebrae, with the lower ones being a lot larger than the upper. They are distinguished by the presence of facets on the sides of the bodies for articulation with the heads of the ribs, as well as facets on the transverse processes of all, except the eleventh and twelfth, for articulation with the tubercles of the ribs. By convention, the human thoracic vertebrae are numbered T1–T12, with the first one (T1) located closest to the skull and the others going down the spine toward the lumbar region.
The costal cartilages are bars of hyaline cartilage that serve to prolong the ribs forward and contribute to the elasticity of the walls of the thorax. Costal cartilage is only found at the anterior ends of the ribs, providing medial extension.
The xiphisternal joint is a location near the bottom of the sternum, where the body of the sternum and the xiphoid process meet. It is structurally classified as a synchondrosis, and functionally classified as a synarthrosis. This joint can remain until the middle years of life, but usually ossifies to form a synostosis between the two sternal elements.
Structures passing through the thoracic outlet between the thorax and abdomen include the inferior vena cava and esophagus, both of which pass through the diaphragm, and the abdominal aorta and thoracic duct which pass through the diaphragm, through the aortic hiatus.
The inferior vena cava is a large vein that carries the deoxygenated blood from the lower and middle body into the right atrium of the heart. Its walls are rigid and it has valves so the blood does not flow down via gravity. It is formed by the joining of the right and the left common iliac veins, usually at the level of the fifth lumbar vertebra.
The esophagus or oesophagus, commonly known as the food pipe or gullet (gut), is an organ in vertebrates through which food passes, aided by peristaltic contractions, from the pharynx to the stomach. The esophagus is a fibromuscular tube, about 25 centimetres long in adults, which travels behind the trachea and heart, passes through the diaphragm and empties into the uppermost region of the stomach. During swallowing, the epiglottis tilts backwards to prevent food from going down the larynx and lungs. The word esophagus is the Greek word οἰσοφάγος oisophagos, meaning "gullet".
The abdominal aorta is the largest artery in the abdominal cavity. As part of the aorta, it is a direct continuation of the descending aorta.
The rib cage is the arrangement of ribs attached to the vertebral column and sternum in the thorax of most vertebrates, that encloses and protects the heart and lungs. In humans, the rib cage, also known as the thoracic cage, is a bony and cartilaginous structure which surrounds the thoracic cavity and supports the shoulder girdle to form the core part of the human skeleton. A typical human rib cage consists of 24 ribs in 12 pairs, the sternum and xiphoid process, the costal cartilages, and the 12 thoracic vertebrae.
A body cavity is any fluid-filled space in a multicellular organism other than those of vessels. The human body cavity normally refers to the ventral body cavity, because it is by far the largest.
The thorax or chest is a part of the anatomy of humans and various other animals located between the neck and the abdomen. The thorax includes the thoracic cavity and the thoracic wall. It contains organs including the heart, lungs, and thymus gland, as well as muscles and various other internal structures. Many diseases may affect the chest, and one of the most common symptoms is chest pain.
The mediastinum is the central compartment of the thoracic cavity surrounded by loose connective tissue, as an undelineated region that contains a group of structures within the thorax. The mediastinum contains the heart and its vessels, the esophagus, the trachea, the phrenic and cardiac nerves, the thoracic duct, the thymus and the lymph nodes of the central chest.
The serratus anterior is a muscle that originates on the surface of the 1st to 8th ribs at the side of the chest and inserts along the entire anterior length of the medial border of the scapula. The serratus anterior acts to pull the scapula forward around the thorax. The muscle is named from Latin: serrare = to saw, referring to the shape, anterior = on the front side of the body.
The internal oblique muscle is a muscle in the abdominal wall that lies below the external oblique and just above the transverse abdominal muscles.
The thoracic inlet, also known as the superior thoracic aperture, refers to the opening at the top of the thoracic cavity. It is also clinically referred to as the thoracic outlet, in the case of thoracic outlet syndrome; this refers to the superior thoracic aperture, and not to the lower, larger opening, the inferior thoracic aperture.
The internal intercostal muscles are a group of skeletal muscles located between the ribs. They are eleven in number on either side. They commence anteriorly at the sternum, in the intercostal spaces between the cartilages of the true ribs, and at the anterior extremities of the cartilages of the false ribs, and extend backward as far as the angles of the ribs, hence they are continued to the vertebral column by thin aponeuroses, the posterior intercostal membranes.
The external oblique muscle is the largest and the outermost of the three flat muscles of the lateral anterior abdomen.
The intercostal nerves are part of the somatic nervous system, and arise from the anterior rami of the thoracic spinal nerves from T1 to T11. The intercostal nerves are distributed chiefly to the thoracic pleura and abdominal peritoneum and differ from the anterior rami of the other spinal nerves in that each pursues an independent course without plexus formation.
The abdomen constitutes the part of the body between the thorax (chest) and pelvis, in humans and in other vertebrates. The abdomen is the frontal part of the abdominal segment of the trunk, the dorsal part of this segment being the back of the abdomen. The region occupied by the abdomen is termed the abdominal cavity. In arthropods it is the posterior tagma of the body; it follows the thorax or cephalothorax. The abdomen stretches from the thorax at the thoracic diaphragm to the pelvis at the pelvic brim. The pelvic brim stretches from the lumbosacral joint to the pubic symphysis and is the edge of the pelvic inlet. The space above this inlet and under the thoracic diaphragm is termed the abdominal cavity. The boundary of the abdominal cavity is the abdominal wall in the front and the peritoneal surface at the rear.
The aortic hiatus is a hole in the diaphragm. It is the lowest and most posterior of the large apertures.
The intercostal arteries are a group of arteries that supply the area between the ribs ("costae"), called the intercostal space. The highest intercostal artery is an artery in the human body that usually gives rise to the first and second posterior intercostal arteries, which supply blood to their corresponding intercostal space. It usually arises from the costocervical trunk, which is a branch of the subclavian artery. Some anatomists may contend that there is no supreme intercostal artery, only a supreme intercostal vein.
The muscles of respiration are those muscles that contribute to inhalation and exhalation, by aiding in the expansion and contraction of the thoracic cavity. The diaphragm and, to a lesser extent, the intercostal muscles drive respiration during quiet breathing. Additional 'accessory muscles of respiration' are typically only used under conditions of high metabolic demand or respiratory dysfunction. However, in instances where these accessory muscles become stiff and hard, expansion of the rib cage can be restricted. Maintenance of the elasticity of these muscles is crucial to the health of the respiratory system and to maximize its functional capabilities.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to human anatomy:
The pulmonary pleurae are the two pleurae of the invaginated sac surrounding each lung and attaching to the thoracic cavity. The visceral pleura is the delicate serous membrane that covers the surface of each lung and dips into the fissures between the lobes. The parietal pleura is the outer membrane which is attached to the inner surface of the thoracic cavity. It also separates the pleural cavity from the mediastinum. The parietal pleura is innervated by the intercostal nerves and the phrenic nerve.