Lymphadenopathy refers to the enlargement of lymph nodes, and the subcarinal region is found directly below the trachea, where it branches off into the left and right side. The subcarinal region is part of the mediastinum, which is the large area within the chest that houses the heart and lungs.
The mediastinum contains many structures and organs in addition to the lungs and heart, such as the esophagus, blood vessels and lymph nodes.
Lymph nodes are organs found within the body that are part of the lymphatic and circulatory system. They function in the redistribution of fluid, as well as play an important role in the immune system of the body. Palpable lymph nodes are usually 1-2 centimeters in size, but the size can vary. Abnormal enlargement of lymph nodes is known as lymphadenopathy.
Lymphadenopathy is caused by various processes. Often times it is due to minor illnesses, such as infections that cause the enlargement of these nodes. However, lymphadenopathy can also occur due to more serious illnesses, such as autoimmune diseases or malignancies.
Mediastinal lymphadenopathy of the subcarinal region can be difficult to visualize with traditional imaging methods; therefore, it often requires computer tomography to see clearly. Lymphadenopathy of this region on imaging studies is often significant, primarily due to the location. With many vital organs nearby, lymph node enlargement in this area can signify a local disease process.