In anatomy, the carina is a cartilaginous ridge within the trachea that runs antero-posteriorly between the two primary bronchi at the site of the tracheal bifurcation at the lower end of the trachea (usually at the level of the 5th thoracic vertebra, which is in line with the angle of Louis, but may raise or descend up to two vertebrae higher or lower with breathing). This ridge lies to the left of the midline. Foreign bodies that fall down the trachea are more likely to enter the right bronchus.
The mucous membrane of the carina is the most sensitive area of the trachea and larynx for triggering a cough reflex. Widening and distortion of the carina is a serious sign because it usually indicates carcinoma of the lymph nodes around the region where the trachea divides.
Tracheobronchial injury, an injury to the airways, occurs within 2.5 cm of the carina 60% of the time.
- ^ Chu CP, Chen PP (April 2002). "Tracheobronchial injury secondary to blunt chest trauma: Diagnosis and management". Anaesth Intensive Care 30 (2): 145–52. PMID 12002920.
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This article incorporates public domain material from the U.S. National Cancer Institute document "Dictionary of Cancer Terms".