Reference > Anatomy of the Human Body > Page 406
Henry Gray (1825–1861).  Anatomy of the Human Body.  1918.

The Central Tendon.—The central tendon of the diaphragm is a thin but strong aponeurosis situated near the center of the vault formed by the muscle, but somewhat closer to the front than to the back of the thorax, so that the posterior muscular fibers are the longer. It is situated immediately below the pericardium, with which it is partially blended. It is shaped somewhat like a trefoil leaf, consisting of three divisions or leaflets separated from one another by slight indentations. The right leaflet is the largest, the middle, directed toward the xiphoid process, the next in size, and the left the smallest. In structure the tendon is composed of several planes of fibers, which intersect one another at various angles and unite into straight or curved bundles—an arrangement which gives it additional strength.

Openings in the Diaphragm.—The diaphragm is pierced by a series of apertures to permit of the passage of structures between the thorax and abdomen. Three large openings—the aortic, the esophageal, and the vena caval—and a series of smaller ones are described.
  The aortic hiatus is the lowest and most posterior of the large apertures; it lies at the level of the twelfth thoracic vertebra. Strictly speaking, it is not an aperture in the diaphragm but an osseoaponeurotic opening between it and the vertebral column, and therefore behind the diaphragm; occasionally some tendinous fibers prolonged across the bodies of the vertebræ from the medial parts of the lower ends of the crura pass behind the aorta, and thus convert the hiatus into a fibrous ring. The hiatus is situated slightly to the left of the middle line, and is bounded in front by the crura, and behind by the body of the first lumbar vertebra. Through it pass the aorta, the azygos vein, and the thoracic duct; occasionally the azygos vein is transmitted through the right crus.
  The esophageal hiatus is situated in the muscular part of the diaphragm at the level of the tenth thoracic vertebra, and is elliptical in shape. It is placed above, in front, and a little to the left of the aortic hiatus, and transmits the esophagus, the vagus nerves, and some small esophageal arteries.
  The vena caval foramen is the highest of the three, and is situated about the level of the fibrocartilage between the eighth and ninth thoracic vertebræ. It is quadrilateral in form, and is placed at the junction of the right and middle leaflets of the central tendon, so that its margins are tendinous. It transmits the inferior vena cava, the wall of which is adherent to the margins of the opening, and some branches of the right phrenic nerve.
  Of the lesser apertures, two in the right crus transmit the greater and lesser right splanchnic nerves; three in the left crus give passage to the greater and lesser left splanchnic nerves and the hemiazygos vein. The gangliated trunks of the sympathetic usually enter the abdominal cavity behind the diaphragm, under the medial lumbocostal arches.
  On either side two small intervals exist at which the muscular fibers of the diaphragm are deficient and are replaced by areolar tissue. One between the sternal and costal parts transmits the superior epigastric branch of the internal mammary artery and some lymphatics from the abdominal wall and convex surface of the liver. The other, between the fibers springing from the medial and lateral lumbocostal arches, is less constant; when this interval exists, the upper and back part of the kidney is separated from the pleura by areolar tissue only.

Variations.—The sternal portion of the muscle is sometimes wanting and more rarely defects occur in the lateral part of the central tendon or adjoining muscle fibers.

Nerves.—The diaphragm is supplied by the phrenic and lower intercostal nerves.

Actions.—The diaphragm is the principal muscle of inspiration, and presents the form of a dome concave toward the abdomen. The central part of the dome is tendinous, and the pericardium is attached to its upper surface; the circumference is muscular. During inspiration the lowest ribs are fixed, and from these and the crura the muscular fibers contract and draw downward and forward the central tendon with the attached pericardium. In this movement the curvature of the diaphragm is scarcely altered, the dome moving downward nearly parallel


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