© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery. All rights reserved.OBJECTIVES The purposes of this study were to identify possible compression points along the transit route of the subclavian artery and to provide a detailed anatomical analysis of areas that are involved in the surgical management of the thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS). The results of the current study are based on measurements from cadavers, computed tomography (CT) scans and dry adult first ribs. METHODS The width and length of the interscalene space and the width of the costoclavicular passage were measured on 18 cervical dissections in 9 cadavers, on 50 dry first ribs and on CT angiography sections from 15 patients whose conditions were not related to TOS. RESULTS The average width and length of the interscalene space in cadavers were 15.28 ± 1.94 mm and 15.98 ± 2.13 mm, respectively. The widths of the costoclavicular passage (12.42 ± 1.43 mm) were significantly narrower than the widths and lengths of the interscalene space in cadavers (P < 0.05). The average width and length of the interscalene space (groove for the subclavian artery) in 50 dry ribs were 15.53 ± 2.12 mm and 16.12 ± 1.95 mm, respectively. In CT images, the widths of the costoclavicular passage were also significantly narrower than those of the interscalene space (P < 0.05). The measurements from cadavers, dry first ribs and CT images were not significantly different (P > 0.05). CONCLUSIONS Our results showed that the costoclavicular width was the narrowest space along the passage route of the subclavian artery. When considering the surgical decompression of the subclavian artery for TOS, this narrowest area should always be kept in mind. Since measurements from CT images and cadavers were significantly similar, CT measurements may be used to evaluate the thoracic outlet region in patients with TOS.