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Posterior interosseous artery

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Arteries, veins and nerves of the elbow and forearm.
Posterior interosseous artery (Arteria interossea posterior)

The posterior interosseous artery is the smallest terminal branch of the common interosseous artery. It is located deep within the posterior compartment of forearm.

The posterior interosseous artery gives off the recurrent interosseous artery, as well as several muscular and perforating fasciocutaneous branches. These blood vessels contribute to the arterial anastomosis of the elbow and supply several superficial and deep extensor muscles of the forearm.

This article will discuss the anatomy and functions of the posterior interosseous artery.

Key facts about the posterior interosseous artery
Origin Common interosseous artery
Branches Recurrent interosseous artery, perforating muscular branches
Supply Muscles: extensor digitorum, extensor carpi ulnaris, abductor pollicis longus, extensor pollicis longus, extensor pollicis brevis
Cutaneous: skin over posterolateral aspect of elbow and a central band over the posterior aspect of forearm
  1. Course
  2. Branches and supply
  3. Sources
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The posterior interosseous artery stems from the common interosseous artery just distal to the elbow. The initial part of the artery travels posteriorly and deeply, passing between the oblique cord and proximal border of the interosseous membrane of forearm. It then emerges more superficially by passing between the supinator (superiorly) and abductor pollicis longus (inferiorly) muscles. The posterior interosseous artery descends within the posterior compartment of forearm between extensor carpi ulnaris and extensor digiti minimi muscles. Along the way, it passes over the abductor pollicis longus, extensor pollicis longus and extensor indicis muscles.

The artery finishes at the level of the carpal bones of the hand where it joins the anterior interosseous artery and the dorsal carpal anastomosis. In certain individuals, the posterior interosseous artery terminates approximately midway along the forearm, anastomosing with the posterior interosseous artery at that level.

Branches and supply

Recurrent interosseous artery

The posterior interosseous artery gives off several branches;

  • The recurrent interosseous artery that supplies the skin over the posterolateral aspect of the elbow. It ascends towards the elbow between the lateral epicondyle of humerus and olecranon of ulna, passing underneath anconeus. This artery is involved in the arterial anastomosis of the elbow by joining with the middle collateral artery, posterior branch of ulnar recurrent artery and superior ulnar collateral artery.
  • The muscular branches that supply two superficial and three deep extensors of the forearm. These are the extensor digitorum, extensor carpi ulnaris, abductor pollicis longus, extensor pollicis longus and extensor pollicis brevis muscles.
  • The perforating fasciocutaneous branches that supply a central cutaneous band over the posterior aspect of forearm. This area is outlined by the extensor digitorum laterally, lateral epicondyle of humerus superiorly and wrist inferiorly.

Learn more about the arteries of the forearm, including the posterior interosseous arteries, using the study unit given below:

Posterior interosseous artery: want to learn more about it?

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