The diaphragmatic crura and retrocrural space: Normal imaging appearance, variants, and pathologic conditions

Carlos S. Restrepo, Andres Eraso, Daniel Ocazionez, Julio Lemos, Santiago Martinez, Diego F. Lemos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Scopus citations


The retrocrural space (RCS) is a small triangular region within the most inferior posterior mediastinum bordered by the two diaphragmatic crura. Multiplanar imaging modalities such as computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging allow evaluation of the RCS as part of routine examinations of the chest, abdomen, and spine. Normal structures within the retrocrural region include the aorta, nerves, the azygos and hemiazygos veins, the cisterna chyli with the thoracic duct, fat, and lymph nodes. There is a wide range of normal variants of the diaphragmatic crura and of structures within the RCS. Diverse pathologic processes can occur within this region, including benign tumors (lipoma, neurofibroma, lymphangioma), malignant tumors (sarcoma, neuroblastoma, metastases), vascular abnormalities (aortic aneurysm, hematoma, azygos and hemiazygos continuation of the inferior vena cava), and abscesses. An understanding of the anatomy, normal variants, and pathologic conditions of the diaphragmatic crura and retrocrural structures facilitates diagnosis of disease processes within this often overlooked anatomic compartment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1289-1305
Number of pages17
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 2009


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

Cite this