The trachea, or windpipe in layman’s terminology, begins on its upper end just below the larynx and extends inferiorly into the chest where it splits into the right and left mainstem bronchi; delivering inspired air to the right and left lungs, respectively.

The tracheal rings comprise approximately two-thirds of the circumference of the trachea, anteriorly and laterally. The remaining posterior one-third “membranous” tracheal mucosa is the anterior surface of the “party wall” it shares with the esophagus.