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thoracic cavity[thə′ras·ik ′kav·əd·ē]
the anterior (in man, the superior) portion of the body cavity in mammals, separated from the abdominal cavity by the diaphragm.
The respiratory tract, lungs, esophagus, heart, thymus, and the bronchial and lymph nodes are all located in the thoracic cavity; blood vessels, lymphatic vessels, and nerves pass through it as well. The space in the thoracic cavity between the concave inner surfaces of the lungs, in which (in a special pericardial cavity) the heart is located, is called the mediastinum. The thoracic cavity is lined with a serous membrane called the pleura. The lungs are enclosed in the so-called pleural cavities, which are separate in man but communicate with one another in the majority of mammals. The shape of the thoracic cavity depends upon the shape of the thorax and the position of the diaphragm.