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StatPearls . Treacertain Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-.


Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Axillary Artery

Robert Thiel; Akul Munjal; Daniel T. Daly.

Author Information


The axillary artery is a blood vessel that provides the axilla, the lateral percent of the thorax, and the top limb through oxygenated blood. It consists of three parts separated by the pectoralis minor, which lies superficially to the artery. The first part is an expansion of the subclavian artery. The delineation between the subclavian artery and the axillary artery is the lateral the majority of border of the first rib. The axillary artery terminates at the reduced border of the teres major muscle. It then continues as the brachial artery. The axillary vein accompanies the axillary artery. The vein runs medial to the artery along its entire length. The brachial plexus’ cords are intimately connected via the axillary artery, each being named according to its place loved one to the second component of the artery. <1><2>

Structure and also Function

The axillary artery is classically divided right into 3 components.

The initially part lies distal to the lateral border of the first rib and proximal to the pectoralis minor. It lies on peak of the serratus anterior. It has one branch referred to as the superior thoracic artery. This branch supplies the first 2 intercostal spaces superficially with oxygenated blood.
The second component lies straight underneath or posterior to the pectoralis minor muscle, beginning at the top border of the muscle and finishing at the muscle"s lower border. It has 2 branches. The first branch is the thoracoacromial trunk, which quickly divides right into four arteries. These arteries are the acromial artery, the pectoral arteries, the clavicular artery, and also the deltoid artery. The acromial artery provides blood to the acromion area of the scapula. The pectdental arteries carry out blood to the pectoralis significant and minor muscles. The clavicular artery provides blood to the subclavius muscle area. The deltoid artery provides blood to the deltoid region. The second branch of the second component of the axillary artery is the lateral thoracic artery. It provides blood to the lateral sections of the chest wall and the mammary gland also.
The third component lies distal to the lower border of the pectoralis minor muscle, anterior to the subscapularis muscle and teres significant muscle. It has actually 3 branches that are variable in their order: the subscapular trunk, the anterior humeral circumflex artery, and also the posterior humeral circumflex artery. The subscapular trunk is frequently the biggest branch of the axillary artery. It provides rise to the scapular circumflex artery and the thoracodorsal artery. The scapular circumflex artery runs via the triangular area and also provides blood to the scapular region. The scapular circumflex artery eventually anastomosis via the suprascapular artery, therefore connecting and providing a collateral route in between the first and also third components of the axillary artery. The thoracodorsal artery gives blood to the latissimus dorsi muscle. The 2 continuing to be branches of the 3rd component of the axillary artery, the anterior and posterior humeral circumflex artery, carry out blood to the head of the humerus and shoulder joint. These arteries anastomose through one one more. The anterior humeral circumflex is smaller and also runs anterior to the humerus. The posterior humeral circumflex is bigger and also runs posterior to the humerus.


Advancement of the top limb arteries is very facility. The major artery establishes lengthwise as the limb bud grows. Upper limb artery formation is additionally very closely connected via bone development. 

Physiologic Variants

Many type of variations of the axillary artery have been discovered and are debated throughout the literary works. The brachioradial artery is one of the variations in the axillary branching pattern. It is a terminal branch that has a superficial course distally. It travels via the cubital fossa, alengthy the lateral percentage of the forearm, and also terminates in the deep palmar arch. This variation, together with other even more rare variations uncovered, has many surgical and also diagnostic ramifications.<3>

Surgical Considerations

Clamping the axillary artery can be achieved without harming the arm. Any surgical procedures concerning the axillary artery call for delicacy as a result of the proximity of the brachial plexus. In cardiac surgical treatment, the appropriate axillary artery is commonly offered as an arterial cannulation website, particularly in the repair of aortic disarea.

Clinical Significance

Injuries to the axillary artery are rare but can reason limb loss. They many commonly aclimb from penetrating or blunt trauma to the shoulder. Examples encompass yet are not limited to anterior shoulder disarea, reduction of anterior shoulder dislocation, and huethical neck fracture. These mechanisms of injury may reason axillary artery rupture and also subsequent thrombosis. Patients may current with pain, pallor, coldness, missing or delayed capillary refill, numbness or tingling, or absence of radial pulse to the injured limb. The collateral blood supply in the shoulder, however, may mask some of these symptoms. Hence, presentation of axillary artery injury is variable, so a high level of suspicion is vital.  <4><5><6>

Axillary Artery Aneurysm

Axillary artery aneurysms are among the injuries that deserve to take place because of penetrating or blunt trauma. They may, but, develop from atherosclerotic procedures over lengthy durations of time. They often are connected via neurological complications as a result of the close proximity of the axillary artery and the brachial plexus. Aneurysms may aincrease from improper use of crutches. Presentation of these patients might incorporate neurological deficits of the upper limb, ischemic fingers, or occlusion of the redial and also ulnar arteries because of embolization from an aneurysm. Axillary aneurysms are evidenced by imaging. CT angiography is the many beneficial imaging technique once diagnosing. It is currently the gold traditional. An different imaging modality contains magnetic resonance angiography once intravenous contrast is contrasuggested. Ultrasound is also very useful for detection and also diagnosis. An aneurysmectomy and also grafting through a saphenous vein is commonly the surgical procedure employed to reverse these complications. Another therapy choice for patients is an endovascular aneurysm repair.

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Arterial Positional Compression

Axillary artery thrombosis and also aneurysm might also be viewed, although very hardly ever, in healthy athletes that precreate regular overhead throwing movements such as pitching a baseball or hitting a volleyball. In the throwing motion, the anterior displacement of the humerus locations compression on the third percent of the axillary artery. Intermittent compression of the axillary artery may reason chronic transforms in downstream vascular sufficiency. This might bring about subsequent thrombosis and aneurysm. Medical staff managing these athletes must be vigilant for symptoms of ischemic pain, cold intolerance, numbness, or arm exhaustion instantly following exercise or competition. Medical staff need to note that symptoms will certainly current later on in the condition process due to the fact that only significant embolization or reduced blood circulation causes perceptible changes in temperature or sensation. CT angiogram and also magnetic resonance angiogram deserve to be supplied to diagnose or screen athletes at threat of symptomatic arterial positional compression.