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Aortic arch

Anatomy, branches, function and definition of the aortic arch.

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Hello, everyone! This is Matt from Kenhub, and the focus of this tutorial is the aortic arch. In order to understand its anatomy, let’s briefly discuss the anatomy of the whole aorta, the largest artery in the human body and directly connected to the heart.

After starting at the aortic valve, the ascending aorta winds towards the head, becomes the aortic arch or the transverse aorta as it makes a rainbow shape over the superior aspect of the heart, and then moves in an inferior direction through the chest and abdomen. At the left subclavian artery, it becomes the thoracic aorta. After the thoracic aorta comes the abdominal aorta.

You can see the aorta with the aortic arch highlighted in green and the full aorta pictured without its many branches.

The aortic arch or transverse aorta gives three branches which supply the head and upper limbs. The first branch of the aortic arch is the brachiocephalic artery, which splits further into the right common carotid and right subclavian arteries. The other two branches that come out of the aortic arch are the left common carotid artery and the left subclavian artery.

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