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The esophagus is a tubular structure about 10 in. (25 cm) long that is continuous above with the laryngeal part of the pharynx opposite the sixth cervical vertebra. It passes through the diaphragm at the level of the 10th thoracic vertebra to join the stomach. In the neck, the esophagus lies in front of the vertebral column; laterally, it is related to the lobes of the thyroid gland; and anteriorly, it is in contact with the trachea and the recurrent laryngeal nerves.

In the thorax, it passes downward and to the left through the superior and then the posterior mediastinum. At the level of the sternal angle, the aortic arch pushes the esophagus over to the midline.

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