Atlas of Human Anatomy in Cross Section: Appendix: Topography of the Thorax and Abdomen
Ronald A. Bergman, Ph.D., Adel K. Afifi, M.D., Jean J. Jew, M.D., and Paul
C. Reimann, B.S.
Peer Review Status: Externally Peer Reviewed
The highest point of the arch of the aorta, according to Eycleshymer and Schoemaker, ranges from the second thoracic disk to the middle of the fifth thoracic vertebra with an average position at the level of the third thoracic disk. Hildebrand (cited but not referenced in Eycleshymer and Schoemaker) finds it opposite the third to fourth thoracic vertebrae; Morris, opposite the third thoracic vertebra; Merkel and Piersol, on a level with the third thoracic spine; and Cunningham, just below the second thoracic spine. With reference to the anterior thoracic wall, the aortic arch is opposite the suprasternal notch. Piersol and Morris place it about 2.5 cm below the suprasternal notch. Joessel places it on a level with the middle of the first costal cartilage.
The bifurcation of the aorta varies from the third lumbar disk to the middle third of the fifth lumbar vertebra, with the average position being at the level of the lower third of the fourth lumbar vertebra, according to Eycleshymer and Schoemaker. Joessel and Corning find the bifurcation opposite the lower portion of the fourth lumbar vertebra; Poirier and Charpy, Cunningham, Morris, and Piersol place it at the level of the fourth lumbar vertebra. The present study also places it at the lower third of the fourth lumbar vertebra.
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