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Parietal pleura

Parietal pleura
A transverse section of the thorax, showing the contents of the middle and the posterior mediastinum. The pleural and pericardial cavities are exaggerated since normally there is no space between parietal and visceral pleura and between pericardium and heart.
Latin pleura parietalis
intercostal nerves, phrenic nerves
Gray's p.1087
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Anatomical terminology

The parietal pleura is the part of the pleura external to the visceral pleura. It lines the inner surface of the chest wall, covers the diaphragm, and is reflected over the structures occupying the middle of the thorax.

The parietal pleura is attached to the wall of the thoracic cavity and innervated by the intercostal nerves and phrenic nerve.


Parietal pleura lines the thoracic wall, covers the superior surface of the diaphragm and separates the pleural cavity from the mediastinum. The costal portion of the parietal pleura lines the inner aspect of the ribs and intervening intercostal muscles, being separated from them by endothoracic fascia. Different portions of the parietal pleura have received special names which indicate their position in the body. Denoted sections include:

  • The cervical pleura or (pleural cupula) which rises into the neck, over the apex of the lung.
  • The costal pleura which is the portion that lines the inner surfaces of the ribs and intercostales.
  • The diaphragmatic pleura which lines the convex surface of the diaphragm.
  • The mediastinal pleura that which is applied to other thoracic viscera.


This part of the parietal pleura is innervated by the intercostal nerves. The diaphragmatic portion of the parietal pleura overlies the diaphragm and is innervated by the phrenic nerve in its central portion and by the intercostal nerves in its peripheral portion. The mediastinal portion of the parietal pleura forms the lateral wall of the mediastinum and is innervated by the phrenic nerve.


The parietal pleura is derived from the somatic mesoderm, and is highly sensitive to pain.

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This article incorporates text in the public domain from the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)

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