chapter  14
44 Pages

The thoracic cage, lungs and heart

The thoracic cage, bounded by the thoracic inlet superiorly, the diaphragm inferiorly, the sternum anteriorly, the vertebral column posteriorly and the chest wall laterally, forms an airtight cage whose continuous movements and subsequent intrathoracic pressure changes ventilate the lungs. In addition to this vital role, its walls protect the organs and structures it contains – the lungs, trachea, heart, great vessels, thymus and oesophagus.