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Can Assoc Radiol J. 2015 Feb;66(1):30-43. doi: 10.1016/j.carj.2014.08.003.

The wonderful world of the windpipe: a review of central airway anatomy and pathology.

Author information

  • 1Department of Radiology and Medical Imaging, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA. Electronic address:
  • 2Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
  • 3Medical Imaging, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, Arizona, USA.


A variety of pathologic processes can involve the central airways. Abnormalities may either diffusely or focally involve the tracheal or mainstem bronchial walls. Diseases that diffusely involve the tracheal wall can be subclassified as sparing the membranous trachea or circumferentially involving the tracheal wall. Focal diseases of the trachea and mainstem bronchi include benign and malignant causes. Additionally, congenital and acquired morphologic abnormalities of the trachea will be reviewed.


Central airway abnormalities; Tracheal neoplasms; Tracheobronchial pathology

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