Circumflex scapular arteryThe circumflex scapular artery is the largest terminal branch of the subscapular artery. It courses through the posterior aspect of the shoulder, within the infraspinous fossa of the scapula.
This artery gives off several muscular, cutaneous and articular branches. They contribute to the blood supply of three muscles (deltoid, teres minor, triceps brachii), glenohumeral joint and two small cutaneous areas partially overlying the scapula.
|Branches||Muscular, infrascapular, articular, superior (horizontal) and inferior (parascapular) arteries|
|Supply||Deltoid, teres minor and triceps brachii muscles; glenoid labrum and articular capsule of the glenohumeral joint; skin overlying spine and lateral border of scapula|
This article will discuss the anatomy and function of the circumflex scapular artery (scapular circumflex artery).
The circumflex scapular artery stems from the posterior aspect of the subscapular artery and travels posteriorly towards the scapula. The artery curves around the lateral border of scapula and passes through the triangular space formed by the subscapularis (superiorly), teres major (inferiorly) and long head of triceps brachii (laterally).
Once it reaches the infraspinous fossa of scapula, the circumflex scapular artery travels superomedially towards the neck of scapula. After passing through the teres minor muscle, the artery ends by anastomosing with the suprascapular and dorsal scapular arteries.
Branches and supply
The circumflex scapular artery gives rise to several branches:
- Perforating muscular arteries, which supply the posterior aspect of the deltoid, long head of triceps brachii and teres minor. The large muscular arteries give rise to smaller branches which anastomose with the ascending branch of deep brachial artery. It’s worth to note that the muscular arteries play an important role in forming the scapular anastomosis.
- The superior, infraspinous branch of circumflex scapular artery anastomoses primarily with the suprascapular and dorsal scapular arteries.
- In turn, the inferior branch of circumflex scapular artery joins the dorsal scapular artery.
- Superior (horizontal) cutaneous branch supplies the skin extending over the spine of scapula.
- Inferior (parascapular) cutaneous branch vascularizes the skin over the lateral border of scapula.
- Articular branches supply the periphery of the glenoid labrum and articular capsule of the glenohumeral joint.
Learn more about the arteries of the shoulder, including the circumflex scapular artery, by taking a look at the following study unit: