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Anatomy Atlases: Atlas of Human Anatomy in Cross Section: Topography of the Thorax and Abdomen

Atlas of Human Anatomy in Cross Section: Appendix: Topography of the Thorax and Abdomen

Superior Vena Cava

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


Formation

The formation of the superior vena cava varies, according to Eycleshymer and Schoemaker, from the second to the fourth thoracic disks, with the average position being at the level of the lower third of the third thoracic vertebra. Morris finds it at a level opposite the third thoracic vertebra.

With reference to the anterior abdominal wall, it lies behind the left sternoclavicular junction. Luschka, Joessel, Langer and Toldt, and Morris place it at the sternal end of the first right costal cartilage; Corning finds it opposite the sternal end of the first intercostal space; Poirier and Charpy and Piersol place it at a level just below the lower border of the sternal end of the first costal cartilage.

Cardiac Orifice

The cardiac orifice of the superior vena cava varies, according to Eycleshymer and Schoemaker, from the upper third of the fifth to the lower third of the eighth thoracic vertebrae, with the average position being at the level of the middle third of the seventh thoracic vertebra. Poirier and Charpy find it lying at the level of the sixth or seventh thoracic vertebra, and Morris puts it at the level of the sixth thoracic vertebra.

With reference to the anterior thoracic wall, it lies opposite the sternal end of the second right intercostal space. Poirier and Charpy find it at the sternal end of the third costal cartilage or slightly above the second intercostal space.

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