The musculophrenic artery is a distal branch of the internal thoracic artery. It courses from the 6th to the last intercostal space, on the anterior aspect of the thoracic cage.
The function of the musculophrenic artery is to provide blood supply to the muscles of the thoracic wall, together with the superior intercostal artery, branches from the thoracic part of the descending aorta, and the subcostal and superior thoracic arteries. The musculophrenic artery also supplies the pericardium and the upper part of the anterior abdominal wall.
This article will discuss the anatomy and function of the musculophrenic artery.
|Origin||Internal thoracic artery|
|Branches||7th-9th anterior intercostal arteries, branches to pericardium, branches to rectus abdominis|
|Supply||7th-9th intercostal spaces and muscles, inferior part of pericardium, anterior part of diaphragm, upper part of rectus abdominis|
Origin and course
The musculophrenic artery arises as a distal branch of the retrosternal division of each internal thoracic artery. It originates from the lateral side of this artery, at the level of the sixth costal cartilage. From its origin, the musculophrenic artery takes an inferolateral course, traveling behind the cartilages of the false ribs, down the thoracic wall and passing through the diaphragm at the level of the ninth costal cartilage. It then continues to descend in the same fashion, to supply the diaphragm and ramify on its abdominal surface.
The musculophrenic artery ends at the level of the last intercostal space. Here, it anastomoses with the inferior phrenic artery, the lower two posterior intercostal arteries and the ascending branches of the deep circumflex iliac arteries.
Branches and supply
The musculophrenic artery provides multiple branches as it courses along the cartilages of the false ribs:
- Anterior intercostal arteries for supplying the contents of the seventh to ninth intercostal spaces: namely the external, internal and innermost intercostal muscles.
- Small muscular branches for supplying the superior portion of the rectus abdominis muscle
- Small branches that supply the inferior part of the pericardium
- Fine branches that supply the superior part of the anterior abdominal wall.
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