Surgical anatomy of the trachea
Anatomy as the foundation of surgery is a concept no better exemplified than by the history of tracheal surgery. Incremental advancements in our understanding of the trachea’s position, structure, blood supply and adjacent organs each allowed for stepwise improvements in the thoracic surgeon’s ability to address upper airway disease. As such, the mastery of tracheal anatomy is fundamental to those clinicians responsible for treating such ailments. In this article, tracheal anatomy is reviewed and points critical to the thoracic surgeon are highlighted. The structure and location of the trachea, the blood supply to the trachea, and the trachea’s spatial relationship to critical mediastinal organs are presented. This material provides the groundwork for understanding all aspects of tracheal surgery today.