What Does Lung Apex Mean?

Lung apex is the term used to describe the very top of the lungs.   This description can be found on many different types of reports from X-rays to MRI.   Lung apex is a tough area to evaluate on x-ray because of all the overlapping structures, like ribs, clavicle and blood vessels.   X-ray also does not tell us what an abnormality may be so chest CT is often recommended.

Lung Apex Location

The lung apex is a the very top of the lungs.  The lung apex is at about the level of the clavicles.  The lung apex is seen on multiple imaging studies, even those which are not done for the lungs.  For example, a shoulder x-ray will show the lung apex in additon to the lung below it.   A CT of the neck will show the lung apex.

Apex And Base Of Lungs

The right lung has three divisions or lobes called lower, middle and upper and the left has upper and lower lobes.  The lung apex is at the top of the upper lobes.  The right lung apex and the left lung apex are the same in structure and function.

At the bottom of the lungs is the base of lungs.  It is the same in appearance and function as the rest of the lungs.  There is a covering called the pleura.  The ribs and clavicle are seen around the lung apex.

Common Conditions That Happen At The Lung Apex

The lung apex is a common site for certain infections and lung diseases.  We see signs of lung collapse or pneumothorax at the lung apices as air rises to the top of the chest or above the lungs.  The lung apex is a site where fluid or blood can accumulate when a patient lies on their back.  The lung apex is also a site of normal scarring in many patients.

For more details on lung apex conditions, please read the following article: conditions that can occur at the lung apex


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