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Axillary artery

Artery: Axillary artery
Axillary artery and its branches - anterior view of right upper limb and thorax. Upper and lower limits labeled.
The pectoralis minor is used as a landmark for dividing the axillary artery into three parts.
Latin arteria axillaris
Gray's subject #149 586
Supplies axilla
Source subclavian artery
Branches Superior thoracic
Lateral thoracic
Anterior circumflex humeral
Posterior circumflex humeral
Vein axillary vein
MeSH Axillary+Artery
Dorlands/Elsevier a_61/12153528

In human anatomy, the axillary artery is a large blood vessel that conveys oxygenated blood to the lateral aspect of the thorax, the axilla (armpit) and the upper limb. Its origin is at the lateral margin of the first rib, before which it is called the subclavian artery.

After passing the lower margin of teres major it becomes the brachial artery.


Relation to pectoralis minor: division into three parts

The axillary artery is often referred to as having three parts, with these divisions based on its location relative to the pectoralis minor muscle, which is in front of the artery.

  • First part - the part of the artery medial to pectoralis minor
  • Second part - the part of the artery that lies behind pectoralis minor
  • Third part - the part of the artery lateral to pectoralis minor

Relation to nerves and vein

The axillary artery is accompanied by the axillary vein along its length.

In the axilla, it is surrounded by the brachial plexus. The second part of the axillary artery is the reference for the locational descriptions of the cords in the brachial plexus. For example, the posterior cord of the brachial plexus is so named because it lies posterior to the second part of the artery.



The axillary artery has several smaller branches. The branches can be remembered, in order, when traveling from the heart, with the mnemonic "Screw The Lawyers Save A Patient" or "She Tastes Like Sweet Apple Pie."[1] It should be noted that the origin of these branches is highly variable (e.g. the posterior and anterior circumflex arteries often have a common trunk). An arterial branch is named for its course, not its origin.

  • First part (1 branch)
    • Superior thoracic artery
  • Second part (2 branches)
  • Third part (3 branches)
    • Subscapular artery
    • Anterior circumflex humeral artery
    • Posterior circumflex humeral artery

Continues as the brachial artery past the inferior border of the teres major.

Clinical Significance

The axillary artery may be safely clamped without endangering the arm, but only in a location proximal to the origin of the subscapular artery. The anastomotic network surrounding the scapula provides an alternate path for collateral circulation to the arm from arteries including the dorsal scapular artery and suprascapular artery.

Additional images


  1. ^ Mnemonic at 1208 852 663
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Axillary_artery". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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