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Brachial plexus

Learning objectives

This study unit will help you to:

  1. Identify the two main parts of the brachial plexus.
  2. Name the structures (roots, trunks, divisions, cords) that form the brachial plexus.
  3. Name the lateral and terminal branches of the brachial plexus and their supply areas.

Watch videos

The brachial plexus is a network of nerves located in the neck region, between the anterior and middle scalene muscles. It passes through the axilla and courses through the arm to innervate the muscles, joints and skin of the upper limb. According to its anatomical position, the brachial plexus is divided into two main parts: supraclavicular and infraclavicular. The supraclavicular part (rami and trunks with their branches) of the brachial plexus is located in the posterior triangle of the neck, while its infraclavicular part (cords and their branches) is in the axilla. The brachial plexus gives off lateral branches (anterior and posterior) and five major terminal branches.

This video tutorial will provide you with an overview of the brachial plexus.

Learning the anatomy of the brachial plexus can be a real challenge, but no worries, we have prepared a video with a number of mnemonics that will help you memorize all structures of the brachial plexus.

Take a quiz

Now that you have watched the videos about the brachial plexus, test your knowledge by taking our quiz.

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Download the following PDF worksheets in order to learn all the parts of the brachial plexus.

BLANK WORKSHEET (PDF)LABELED WORKSHEET (PDF)

Browse atlas

Now you can take a closer look at the components of the brachial plexus with our image gallery: 

Summary

Key points about the brachial plexus
Roots C5, C6, C7, C8, T1
Structural organization Trunks: Superior, middle, inferior
Divisions: Three anterior and three posterior
Cords: Posterior, lateral and medial
Terminal branches Musculocutaneous nerve, axillary nerve, median nerve, radial nerve, ulnar nerve
Preterminal branches Supraclavicular: dorsal scapular nerve, suprascapular nerve, long thoracic nerve and subclavian nerve
Infraclavicular: lateral pectoral nerve, medial pectoral nerve, medial cutaneous nerve of the arm, medial cutaneous nerve of the forearm, upper subscapular nerve, thoracodorsal nerve and lower subscapular nerve. 
Function Complete sensory and motor innervation of the arm

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