Thorax Anatomy Mneumonics


The thorax is the part of the body that lies between the neck and the abdomen. It contains many important organs and structures, such as the heart, lungs, esophagus, trachea, aorta, and ribs. To help remember the anatomy of the thorax, there are several mneumonics that can be used.

General Mneumonics

  • The 12 pairs of ribs can be classified into three groups: true ribs (1-7), false ribs (8-10), and floating ribs (11-12). A mneumonic to remember this is: "True lovers find romance at 11".

  • The intercostal muscles are the muscles that lie between the ribs. There are three layers of intercostal muscles: external, internal, and innermost. A mneumonic to remember this is: "Eat in innermost".

  • The intercostal nerves are the nerves that supply the intercostal muscles and the skin of the thorax. They are derived from the ventral rami of the thoracic spinal nerves (T1-T11). A mneumonic to remember this is: "VAN" (vein, artery, nerve), which is the order of structures from superior to inferior in the intercostal space.

  • The branches of the thoracic aorta are the arteries that arise from the aorta in the thorax. There are three main groups of branches: bronchial, esophageal, and intercostal. A mneumonic to remember this is: "BEI" (bronchial, esophageal, intercostal), which is the order of branches from anterior to posterior in relation to the aorta.

  • The contents of the superior mediastinum are the structures that lie in the upper part of the mediastinum, which is the space between the two pleural cavities. Some of the contents are: thymus, brachiocephalic veins, superior vena cava, aortic arch and its branches, trachea, esophagus, vagus nerves, phrenic nerves, and thoracic duct. A mneumonic to remember this is: "The Beatles sang very awesome tunes every vacation period they did" (thymus, brachiocephalic veins, superior vena cava, aortic arch and its branches, trachea, esophagus, vagus nerves, phrenic nerves, thoracic duct).

  • The contents of the posterior mediastinum are the structures that lie in the lower part of the mediastinum. Some of the contents are: descending aorta and its branches, azygos system of veins, esophagus and its plexus, thoracic duct, sympathetic trunks and splanchnic nerves. A mneumonic to remember this is: "DATE STS" (descending aorta and its branches, azygos system of veins, esophagus and its plexus, thoracic duct, sympathetic trunks and splanchnic nerves).

Heart Mneumonics

  • To recall the order of the valves in the heart, use the acronym "Try Pulling My Aorta": Tricuspid, Pulmonary, Mitral, Aortic.

  • To remember the branches of the left coronary artery, use "Left Coronary Artery Sounds Like A Circus": Left Circumflex, Anterior Descending, Septal.

  • To memorize the branches of the right coronary artery, use "Right Coronary Artery Never Pleases Anyone": Right Marginal, Nodal, Posterior Descending, Acute Marginal.

  • To identify the veins that drain into the coronary sinus, use "The Girl Opens The Small Middle Card": Great Cardiac Vein, Oblique Vein of Left Atrium, Thebesian Veins, Small Cardiac Vein, Middle Cardiac Vein, Coronary Sinus.

  • To distinguish between the two types of cardiac muscle fibers, use "Purkinje Fibers Are Fast And Funny": Purkinje fibers have a faster conduction velocity and a funny-shaped appearance compared to ordinary cardiac fibers.

Lung Mneumonics

  • The lobes of the right lung are Superior, Middle and Inferior. The lobes of the left lung are Superior and Inferior. A mneumonic to remember this is: Right lung has 3 letters and 3 lobes, left lung has 4 letters and 2 lobes.

  • The fissures of the right lung are Horizontal and Oblique. The fissure of the left lung is Oblique. A mneumonic to remember this is: HO HO for right lung, HO for left lung.

  • The bronchopulmonary segments of the right lung are Apical, Posterior and Anterior (superior lobe), Lateral and Medial (middle lobe), Superior, Medial Basal, Anterior Basal, Lateral Basal and Posterior Basal (inferior lobe). The bronchopulmonary segments of the left lung are Apicoposterior, Anterior (superior lobe), Superior Lingular, Inferior Lingular (lingula), Superior, Anteromedial Basal, Lateral Basal and Posterior Basal (inferior lobe). A mneumonic to remember this is: APA LAM SMAL LAP for right lung, APAL SIL SALP for left lung.

  • The branches of the pulmonary artery follow the same pattern as the bronchi and bronchopulmonary segments. A mneumonic to remember this is: Arteries Are Airway Adjacent.

  • The branches of the pulmonary vein do not follow the same pattern as the bronchi and bronchopulmonary segments. They tend to be more variable and intersegmental. A mneumonic to remember this is: Veins Vary.

Vasculature Mneumonics

  • For the branches of the aortic arch: ABC'S

    • A: Aorta

    • B: Brachiocephalic trunk

    • C: Common carotid artery (left)

    • S: Subclavian artery (left)

  • For the branches of the brachiocephalic trunk: RSC

    • R: Right subclavian artery

    • S: Right common carotid artery

    • C: Continuation of brachiocephalic trunk

  • For the branches of the subclavian artery: VITamin C and D

    • V: Vertebral artery

    • I: Internal thoracic artery

    • T: Thyrocervical trunk

    • C: Costocervical trunk

    • D: Dorsal scapular artery

  • For the branches of the internal thoracic artery: MAMA

    • M: Musculophrenic artery

    • A: Anterior intercostal arteries

    • M: Medial mammary branches

    • A: Anastomosis with lateral thoracic artery

  • For the branches of the thyrocervical trunk: ISAT

    • I: Inferior thyroid artery

    • S: Suprascapular artery

    • A: Ascending cervical artery

    • T: Transverse cervical artery

  • For the branches of the costocervical trunk: DS

    • D: Deep cervical artery

    • S: Superior intercostal artery

  • For the tributaries of the brachiocephalic vein: I See 4 L's

    • I: Internal jugular vein

    • C: Cephalic vein

    • L: Left superior intercostal vein

    • L: Left internal thoracic vein

    • L: Left vertebral vein

    • L: Left thymic vein

  • For the tributaries of the azygos vein: HAD IT

    • H: Hemiazygos vein

    • A: Accessory hemiazygos vein

    • D: Descending thoracic aorta (direct branches)

    • I: Intercostal veins (posterior)

    • T: Thoracic duct

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