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:
- The serratus anterior muscle
- The subscapularis muscle
- The teres major muscle
- The latissimus dorsi muscle and the adjacent skin.
|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.
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.
- 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.
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