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Sectional Neuroanatomy of the Upper Thoracic Spine and Chest

Chiou-Tan, Faye Y MD*†; Miller, Jessica Schutzbank MD*†; Goktepe, Ahmet Salim MD†‡; Zhang, Han MD§; Taber, Katherine H PhD*∥¶

Journal of Computer Assisted Tomography: March-April 2005 - Volume 29 - Issue 2 - p 281-285
doi: 10.1097/01.rct.0000159509.75575.8e
Graphic Anatomy

This is the second in a series of articles on the spine. The first reviewed the anatomy of the neck. Subsequent articles are planned to cover the anatomy of the middle and lower thoracic spine. Procedures and trauma of the upper thoracic spine and chest are fraught with potentially serious complications. Hemothorax, pneumothorax, nerve damage, pulmonary collapse, and thoracic aortic aneurysm are included in the list. This article provides anatomically accurate schematics of innervation of the upper thoracic chest and spine that can be used to interpret magnetic resonance images of the muscles and nerves. Cross-sectional schematics of the upper chest and spine were drawn as they appear in imaging projections. The relevant nerves were color coded. The muscles and skin surfaces were labeled and assigned the color of the appropriate nerves. An organized comprehensive map of the motor innervation of the upper chest and spine allows the physician to increase the accuracy and efficacy of interventional procedures. This could also assist the electromyographer in correlating the clinical and electrophysiologic findings with magnetic resonance images.

From the *Center for Trauma Rehabilitation and Research, Harris County Hospital District Houston, TX; †Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX; ‡Gulhane Military Medical Academy Rehabilitation Center, Ankara, Turkey; §Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Texas School of Medicine, Houston, TX; ∥School of Health Information Sciences, University of Texas at Houston Health Science Center, Houston, TX; and ¶Research and Education Service Line, Salisbury Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Salisbury, NC.

Received for publication February 1, 2005; accepted February 1, 2005.

Supported in part by an unrestricted educational grant from Allergan to Drs. Taber, Miller, Goktepe, and Chiou-Tan.

Reprints: Faye Chiou Tan, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Baylor College of Medicine, 3601 N. MacGregor Way #240, Houston, TX 77004 (email:

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.