Inferior thoracic aperture
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|Inferior thoracic aperture|
The posterior aspect of the thorax. (Inferior thoracic aperture visible at bottom.)
|Latin||apertura thoracis inferior|
The inferior thoracic aperture is much larger than the superior thoracic aperture. In layman's terms, it is the round opening whose edges are the lowest ribs. It is closed by the diaphragm, which separates the thoracic and abdominal cavities.
The inferior thoracic aperture is bounded by:
- the 12th thoracic vertebra posteriorly,
- 11th and 12th pairs of ribs laterally,
- costal cartilages of ribs 7 through 10 anteriorly,
- and the xiphisternal joint - (i.e.: the articulation between the xiphoid process and the inferior border of the sternal body) anteriorly.
Structures passing through the inferior thoracic aperture 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 posterior to the diaphragm through the aortic hiatus.
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