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n., pl. tho·rax·es or tho·ra·ces [thôr'ə-sēz', thōr'-].
  1. The part of the human body between the neck and the diaphragm, partially encased by the ribs and containing the heart and lungs; the chest.
  2. A part in other vertebrates that corresponds to the human thorax.
  3. The second or middle region of the body of an arthropod, between the head and the abdomen, in insects bearing the true legs and wings.

[Middle English, from Latin thōrāx, breastplate, chest, from Greek.]


The Thorax is a conical framework, connected with the middle region of the spine. It is the largest of the three cavities of the trunk, narrow above, broad below, flattened before and behind, and somewhat cordiform on a transverse section. Boundaries
–– it is bounded in front by the sternum, the six upper costal cartilages, the ribs, and intercostal muscles; at the sides, by the ribs and intercostal muscles; and behind, by the same structures and the dorsal portion of the vertebral column. The Superior Opening of the thorax is bounded on each side by the first rib; in front, by the upper border of the sternum ; and behind, by the first dorsal vertebra. It is broader from side to side, than from before backwards; and its direction is backwards and upwards. The Lower Opening, or Base, is bounded in front by the ensiform cartilage; behind, by the last dorsal vertebra; and on each side by the last rib, the Diaphragm filling in the intervening space. Its direction is obliquely downwards and backwards; so that the cavity of the thorax is much deeper on the posterior, than on the anterior wall. It is wider transversely than from before backwards, and its general direction is convex towards the chest; but it is more flattened at the centre than at the sides, and rises higher on the right than on the left side, corresponding in the dead body to the upper border of the fifth rib, near the sternum, on the right side; and to the corresponding part of the sixth rib on the left side.

The parts which pass through the upper opening of the thorax are, from before backwards, the Sterno-hyoid and Sterno-thyroid muscles, the remains of the thymus gland, the trachea, oesophagus, thoracic duct, and the Long! colli muscles; on the sides, the arteria innominata on the right, the left carotid and left sub-clavian arteries, the internal mammary and superior intercostal arteries, the right and left venae innominatse, the pneumogastric, sympathetic, phrenic, and cardiac nerves, and the recurrent laryngeal nerve of the left side. The apex of each lung, covered by the pleura, also projects through this aperture, a little above the margin of the first rib. The viscera contained in the thoracic cavity are, the great central organ of circulation, the heart, enclosed in its membranous bag, the pericardium; and the organs of respiration, the lungs, invested by the pleurae.


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The American Lung Association
The mission of the American Lung Association® is to prevent lung disease and promote lung health. The American Lung Association® is the oldest voluntary health organization in the United States, with a National Office and constituent and affiliate associations around the country. Founded in 1904 to fight tuberculosis, the American Lung Association® today fights lung disease in all its forms, with special emphasis on asthma, tobacco control and environmental health. The American Lung Association® is funded by contributions from the public, along with gifts and grants from corporations, foundations and government agencies. The American Lung Association® achieves its many successes through the work of thousands of committed volunteers and dedicated staff members.

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