Connection lost. Please refresh the page.
Get help How to study Login Register
Ready to learn?
Pick your favorite study tool

Thoracodorsal artery

Recommended video: Neurovasculature of the shoulder and arm [25:08]
Arteries, veins and nerves of the shoulder and arm.
Thoracodorsal artery (Arteria thoracodorsalis)

The thoracodorsal artery is one of the two terminal branches of the subscapular artery. It runs inferomedially along the lateral border of the scapula.

Along its course, this artery gives rise to small branches that supply the following muscles:

Key facts about the thoracodorsal artery
Origin Subscapular artery
Branches Lateral and medial branches, cutaneous branches
Supply Latissimus dorsi muscle, serratus anterior muscle, subscapularis muscle, teres major muscle, axillary skin

This article will discuss the anatomy and function of the thoracodorsal artery.

  1. Course
  2. Branches and supply
  3. Anatomical variations
  4. Sources
+ Show all


The thoracodorsal artery is a terminal branch of the subscapular artery that originates in the axillary region. It runs inferomedially along the lateral border of the scapula, then courses posteriorly passing deep to the latissimus dorsi muscle.

It usually terminates around the inferior angle of scapula by dividing into two to four branches that supply the large portion of the latissimus dorsi muscle.

Branches and supply

Along its course, the thoracodorsal artery gives rise to several cutaneous and muscular branches that supply the adjacent latissimus dorsi, serratus anterior, subscapularis and teres major muscles as well as the skin in the axillary region.

In most cases, the thoracodorsal artery terminates in a bifurcation, giving off a medial and a lateral branch. These branches run within the interfascicular connective tissue of the latissimus dorsi muscle. The larger, lateral branch runs parallel to the lateral margin of the muscle, while the medial branch courses along its superior border. These branches further divide and anastomose with the branches of intercostal and lumbar arteries.

Learn more about the main arteries of the upper limb with our articles, videos, labeled diagrams and quizzes.

Anatomical variations

  • In cases when the subscapular artery is absent, the thoracodorsal artery arises directly from the axillary artery as a separate branch. Occasionally, it can arise from other sites, most commonly from the lateral thoracic artery.
  • The presence of an accessory thoracodorsal artery that arises from the distal portion of the axillary artery has also been described.

Thoracodorsal artery: want to learn more about it?

Our engaging videos, interactive quizzes, in-depth articles and HD atlas are here to get you top results faster.

What do you prefer to learn with?

“I would honestly say that Kenhub cut my study time in half.” – Read more.

Kim Bengochea, Regis University, Denver
© Unless stated otherwise, all content, including illustrations are exclusive property of Kenhub GmbH, and are protected by German and international copyright laws. All rights reserved.

Register now and grab your free ultimate anatomy study guide!