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aortic hiatus (anatomy)

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The aortic aperture is the route that the aorta takes on passing through the diaphragm. It is characterised by:

  • sited at the level of the T12 thoracic vertebra in expiration
  • formed by the median arcuate ligaments of the diaphragm
  • passes behind the diaphragm as the arcuate ligaments only invest the aorta anteriorly; consequently, diaphragmatic contractions do not directly influence aortic diameter
  • sited slightly to the left of the median plane
  • relations:
    • anteriorly: oesophagus
    • posteriorly:
      • T12 vertebral body
      • hemi-azygous vein
    • right: inferior vena cava
  • other structures passing through the aortic hiatus include:
  • þþ thoracic duct, to the right

      • azygous vein, situated more laterally on the right
      • minor lymphatics

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