UAMS Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences - Arteries of the Thorax

Gross Anatomy


Arteries of the Thorax - Arranged Alphabetically

Artery Source Branches Supply to Notes
anterior intercostal internal thoracic a. (upper 6 intercostal spaces), musculophrenic a. (7-10th intercostal spaces) unnamed muscular branches intercostal muscles anteriorly; skin overlying the intercostal muscles there are two anterior intercostal aa. per side per intercostal space, one coursing above and one coursing below each rib
anterior radicular they arise as multiple branches of several vessels (vertebral, posterior intercostal, lumbar, and lateral sacral aa.) they accompany the ventral rootlets to reach the spinal cord meninges; spinal cord; spinal nerve; ventral rootlets anterior radicular aa. anastomose with the anterior spinal a.
anterior spinal contributions received from several arteries (vertebral, posterior intercostal, subcostal, lumbar, lateral sacral aa.) pial arterial plexus meninges; spinal cord; medulla (dorsal motor nucleus of cranial nerve X, nucleus ambiguus, spinal accessory nucleus and hypoglossal nucleus) anterior spinal a. anastomoses with the anterior radicular brs. of the spinal rami of the vertebral, posterior intercostal, subcostal, lumbar and lateral sacral aa.
aorta, ascending left ventricle of the heart left and right coronary aa. heart, entire body ascending aorta is the shortest part of the aorta; it continues as the aortic arch
aorta, descending thoracic continuation of aortic arch posterior intercostal aa. 3-11, subcostal aa., left bronchial aa. (2), esophageal aa. (~3), mediastinal brs., superior phrenic aa. thoracic wall, lungs, posterior mediastinum, body below the respiratory diaphragm descending thoracic aorta passes posterior to the diaphragm (aortic hiatus) at the level of the T12 vertebral body; it is continuous with the abdominal aorta
aortic arch the continuation of the ascending aorta brachiocephalic trunk, left common carotid a., left subclavian a. the entire body except the heart aortic arch continues as the descending thoracic aorta; the fibrous ligamentum arteriosum connects to the inferior surface of the aortic arch and it marks the location of the fetal ductus arteriosus aortic arch continues as the descending thoracic aorta
artery to the atrioventricular node right coronary a. near the point where it becomes the posterior interventricular a. no named branches atrioventricular node and the surrounding myocardium artery to the atrioventricular node is located at the junction of the coronary sulcus and the posterior interventricular sulcus
artery to the sinuatrial node right coronary a. no named branches sinuatrial node and the surrounding myocardium artery to the sinuatrial node is important artery to locate during cardiac surgical procedures
ascending aorta left ventricle of the heart left and right coronary aa. heart, entire body ascending aorta is the shortest part of the aorta; it continues as the aortic arch
axillary subclavian a. (axillary a. is the continuation of the subclavian lateral to the 1st rib) 1st part: superior thoracic a.; 2nd part: thoracoacromial a., lateral thoracic a.; 3rd part: anterior humeral circumflex a., posterior humeral circumflex a., subscapular a. pectoral region, shoulder region and upper limb pectoralis minor m. crosses anterior to the axillary artery and is used to delineate the 3 parts mentioned at left
brachiocephalic trunk aortic arch right common carotid a., right subclavian a. right side of the head and neck; right upper limb and right side of the chest wall there is only one brachiocephalic trunk
bronchial, left descending thoracic aorta right bronchial a. (occasionally) lower trachea, bronchial tree there are usually two left bronchial aa.
bronchial, right 3rd right posterior intercostal no named branches lower trachea, bronchial tree right bronchial a. may arise from the left bronchial a.
carotid, common brachiocephalic trunk (right), aortic arch (left) external carotid a., internal carotid a. most of the head and upper neck common carotid a. bifurcates at the level of the superior border of the thyroid cartilage; the internal carotid a. and the external carotid a. are its terminal brs.; the carotid sinus and carotid body are located at the bifurcation
circumflex left coronary a. marginal br., possibly posterior artery of the left ventricle posterior surface of the left ventricle circumflex a. courses in the atrioventricular (coronary) sulcus
communicating, posterior internal carotid a. perforating aa. an anastomotic connection a vessel of anastomosis which connects the internal carotid a. to the posterior cerebral a.; part of the cerebral arterial circle (of Willis)
coronary, left ascending aorta anterior interventricular a., circumflex a. left ventricle, left atrium, anterosuperior 2/3 of the interventricular septum left coronary a. arises superior to the left cusp of the aortic semilunar valve; during its short course, it is located in the coronary sulcus; the anterior interventricular a. and the circumflex a. are its terminal brs.
coronary, right ascending aorta sinuatrial nodal a., right marginal a., posterior interventricular a., atrioventricular nodal a. right ventricle, right atrium, inferior 1/3 of the interventricular septum right coronary a. usually provides the posterior interventricular a.; it courses within the coronary sulcus
costocervical trunk subclavian a., 2nd part deep cervical a., highest intercostal a. deep muscles of the posterior neck; posterior ends of the first 2 intercostal spaces costocervical trunk is located between the anterior scalene m. and the middle scalene m.; it arches posteriorly over the cervical parietal pleura
epigastric, superior internal thoracic a. no named branches upper rectus abdominis m., upper abdominal wall superior epigastric a. is the direct continuation of the internal thoracic a.; it s anastomoses with the inferior epigastric a. within the rectus abdominis m.
esophageal descending thoracic aorta; left gastric a. no named branches lower 2/3rds of the thoracic esophagus there are usually two (sometimes 3) esophageal brs. off of the aorta; the left gastric a. gives esophageal brs. that ascend to supply the abdominal esophagus and lowest part of the thoracic esophagus; anastomoses occur between the esophageal brs. of the aorta and left gastric a.
intercostal, anterior internal thoracic a. (upper 6 intercostal spaces), musculophrenic a. (7-10th intercostal spaces) unnamed muscular branches intercostal muscles anteriorly; skin overlying the intercostal muscles there are two anterior intercostal aa. per side per intercostal space, one coursing above and one coursing below each rib
intercostal, highest costocervical trunk posterior intercostal aa. for intercostal spaces 1-2 intercostal muscles of intercostal spaces 1 and 2, vertebral column, deep back muscles highest intercostal a. is also known as: supreme intercostal a.
intercostal, posterior highest intercostal (upper 2 intercostal spaces), descending thoracic aorta (3rd-11th intercostal spaces) posterior br., spinal br., anterior br., collateral br., lateral cutaneous br. intercostal muscles, spinal cord and vertebral column, deep back muscles, skin and superficial fascia overlying the intercostal spaces posterior intercostal aa. supply the lateral and posterior portions of the intercostal space; anterior intercostal aa. supply the anterior portions of the intercostal spaces
lateral thoracic axillary, 2nd part unnamed muscular branches serratus anterior m., parts of adjacent muscles, skin and fascia of the anterolateral thoracic wall lateral thoracic a. is a rare case in that it enters the serratus anterior from its superficial surface
left coronary ascending aorta anterior interventricular a., circumflex a. left ventricle, left atrium, anterosuperior 2/3 of the interventricular septum left coronary a. arises superior to the left cusp of the aortic semilunar valve; during its short course, it is located in the coronary sulcus; the anterior interventricular a. and the circumflex a. are its terminal brs.
mammary, lateral lateral thoracic a. no named branches lateral side of the mammary gland mammary gland is a specialization of the skin and is supplied by superficial (cutaneous) arteries
mammary, medial perforating brs. of the internal thoracic a. no named branches medial side of the mammary gland mammary gland is a specialization of the skin and is supplied by superficial (cutaneous) arteries
musculophrenic internal thoracic a. anterior intercostal aa. anterior diaphragm, anterior aspects of intercostal spaces 7-10 or 11 musculophrenic a. supplies muscles that develop in the septum transversum
nodal, atrioventricular right coronary a. near the point where it becomes the posterior interventricular a. no named branches atrioventricular node and the surrounding myocardium artery to the atrioventricular node is located at the junction of the coronary sulcus and the posterior interventricular sulcus
nodal, sinuatrial right coronary a. no named branches sinuatrial node and the surrounding myocardium sinuatrial nodal a. is an important artery to locate during cardiac surgical procedures
pericardiacophrenic internal thoracic a. pericardial br., sternal br., mediastinal br. pericardial sac, pleura, diaphragm pericardiacophrenic a. accompanies the phrenic n.
pericardial pericardiacophrenic a. no named branches pericardial sac pericardial a. courses on the external surface of the pericardial sac
phrenic, inferior abdominal aorta superior suprarenal aa. diaphragm, suprarenal gland inferior phrenic a. is the first abdominal branch of the aorta; it may arise from the celiac trunk
phrenic, superior descending thoracic aorta (2 small brs.) no named branches diaphragm superior phrenic a. anastomoses with the musculophrenic a. and the pericardiacophrenic a.
posterior intercostal highest intercostal (upper 2 intercostal spaces), descending thoracic aorta (3rd-11th intercostal spaces) posterior br., spinal br., anterior br., collateral br., lateral cutaneous br. intercostal muscles, spinal cord and vertebral column, deep back muscles, skin and superficial fascia overlying the intercostal spaces posterior intercostal aa. supply the lateral and posterior portions of the intercostal space; anterior intercostal aa. supply the anterior portions of the intercostal spaces
posterior radicular they arise as multiple branches of several vessels (vertebral, posterior intercostal, lumbar, and lateral sacral aa.) no named branches meninges; spinal cord; spinal nerve; dorsal rootlets posterior radicular aa. accompany the dorsal rootlets; they anastomose with the posterior spinal aa.
posterior spinal contributions received from several arteries (posterior inferior cerebellar, vertebral, posterior intercostal, subcostal, lumbar, lateral sacral aa.) pial arterial plexus spinal cord, especially the dorsal columns; medulla (nucleus cuneatus and nucleus gracilis) paired; posterior spinal aa. anastomose with the posterior radicular brs. of the spinal rami of the vertebral, posterior intercostal, subcostal, lumbar and lateral sacral aa.
pulmonary trunk right ventricle right pulmonary a., left pulmonary aa. lungs the pulmonary trunk carries deoxygenated blood from the heart to the right and left pulmonary aa.; each pulmonary a. carries deoxygenated blood to the hilum of one lung; bronchial aa. supply oxygenated blood to the tissues of the lung as far distally in the bronchial tree as the respiratory bronchioles
radicular, anterior they arise as multiple branches of several vessels (vertebral, posterior intercostal, lumbar, and lateral sacral aa.) they accompany the ventral rootlets to reach the spinal cord meninges; spinal cord; spinal nerve; ventral rootlets anterior radicular aa. anastomose with the anterior spinal a.
radicular, great anterior the spinal br. of the lower posterior intercostal a., subcostal a., or upper lumbar a., usually on left no named branches lower spinal cord great anterior radicular a. anastomoses with the anterior spinal a. at lower thoracic or upper lumbar spinal cord levels
radicular, posterior they arise as multiple branches of several vessels (vertebral, posterior intercostal, lumbar, and lateral sacral aa.) no named branches meninges; spinal cord; spinal nerve; dorsal rootlets posterior radicular aa. accompany the dorsal rootlets; they anastomose with the posterior spinal aa.
right coronary ascending aorta sinuatrial nodal a., right marginal a., posterior interventricular a., atrioventricular nodal a. right ventricle, right atrium, inferior 1/3 of the interventricular septum right coronary a. usually provides the posterior interventricular a.; it courses within the coronary sulcus
sinuatrial nodal right coronary a. no named branches sinuatrial node and the surrounding myocardium sinuatrial nodal a. is an important artery to locate during cardiac surgical procedures
spinal, anterior contributions received from several arteries (vertebral, posterior intercostal, subcostal, lumbar, lateral sacral aa.) pial arterial plexus meninges; spinal cord; medulla (dorsal motor nucleus of cranial nerve X, nucleus ambiguus, spinal accessory nucleus and hypoglossal nucleus) the anterior spinal a. anastomoses with the anterior radicular brs. of the spinal rami of the vertebral, posterior intercostal, subcostal, lumbar and lateral sacral aa.
spinal, posterior contributions received from several arteries (posterior inferior cerebellar, vertebral, posterior intercostal, subcostal, lumbar, lateral sacral aa.) pial arterial plexus spinal cord, especially the dorsal columns; medulla (nucleus cuneatus and nucleus gracilis) paired; posterior spinal aa. anastomose with the posterior radicular brs. of the spinal rami of the vertebral, posterior intercostal, subcostal, lumbar and lateral sacral aa.
subclavian brachiocephalic a. (right), aortic arch (left) 1st part: vertebral a., thyrocervical trunk, internal thoracic a.; 2nd part: costocervical trunk; 3rd part: dorsal scapular a. (70%) neck, brain, spinal cord, thyroid gland, larynx, shoulder, chest muscles, upper limb subclavian a. is continuous with the axillary a., the name change occurs at the lateral border of the first rib; anterior scalene muscle passes anterior to the subclavian a., dividing it into 3 parts
subcostal descending thoracic aorta spinal br., collateral br., lateral cutaneous br. vertebrae, spinal cord; muscles, skin & fascia of the upper abdominal wall subcostal a. is equivalent to a posterior intercostal a., but is named subcostal because it courses inferior to the 12th rib
superior epigastric internal thoracic a. no named branches upper rectus abdominis m., upper abdominal wall superior epigastric a. is the direct continuation of the internal thoracic a.; it s anastomoses with the inferior epigastric a. within the rectus abdominis m.
thoracic, internal subclavian a. (1st part) pericardiocophrenic a., perforating brs., anterior intercostal aa., mediastinal brs., thymic brs., musculophrenic a., superior epigastric a. mediastinum, anterior thoracic wall, anterior abdominal wall, respiratory diaphragm internal thoracic a. is also known as: internal mammary a.
thoracic, lateral axillary a., 2nd part unnamed muscular branches serratus anterior m., parts of adjacent muscles, skin and fascia of the anterolateral thoracic wall lateral thoracic a. is a rare case in that it enters the serratus anterior from its superficial surface
thoracic, superior axillary a., 1st part unnamed muscular branches muscles of intercostal spaces 1 and 2 superior thoracic a. anastomoses with the intercostal aa. for intercostal spaces 1 and 2
thoracoacromial axillary a., 2nd part pectoral br., clavicular br., acromial br., deltoid br. pectoralis major m., pectoralis minor m., subclavius m., deltoid m., shoulder joint thoracoacromial trunk pierces the costocoracoid membrane
trunk, brachiocephalic aortic arch right common carotid a., right subclavian a. right side of the head and neck; right upper limb and right side of the chest wall there is only one brachiocephalic trunk
trunk, costocervical subclavian a., 2nd part deep cervical a., highest intercostal a. deep muscles of the posterior neck; posterior ends of the first 2 intercostal spaces costocervical trunk is located between the anterior scalene m. and the middle scalene m.; it arches posteriorly over the cervical parietal pleura
trunk, pulmonary right ventricle right pulmonary a., left pulmonary aa. lungs the pulmonary trunk carries deoxygenated blood from the heart to the right and left pulmonary aa.; each pulmonary a. carries deoxygenated blood to the hilum of one lung; bronchial aa. supply oxygenated blood to the tissues of the lung as far distally in the bronchial tree as the respiratory bronchioles
vertebral subclavian a.(1st part) spinal brs., muscular brs., anterior spinal a., posterior inferior cerebellar a., medullary brs., meningeal brs., basilar a. deep neck, cervical spinal cord, spinal cord; medulla (dorsal motor nucleus of cranial nerve X, nucleus ambiguus, spinal accessory nucleus and hypoglossal nucleus) vertebral a. anastomoses with the internal carotid a. in the cerebral arterial circle (of Willis); it courses through the transverse foramina of vertebrae C1-C6


Some of the material presented in these tables is contained in the book:
MedCharts Anatomy by Thomas R. Gest and Jaye Schlesinger
Published by ILOC, Inc., New York. Copyright 1995.

The content of these tables has been edited for use in this course by Patrick W. Tank, Ph.D.
Copyright 2009, Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Unauthorized use is prohibited.



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