The brachial artery is a major blood vessel in the upper arm that supplies oxygenated blood to the upper limb.
This artery is the continuation of the axillary artery after it passes below the lower border of the teres major muscle. The brachial artery travels down the anterior part of the upper arm, reaching the cubital fossa at the elbow region where it divides into its terminal branches - the radial artery and the ulnar artery.
It is possible to palpate the pulse of the brachial artery on the anterior aspect of the elbow, medial to the tendon of the biceps brachii. It is often used to measure blood pressure with a stethoscope and a blood pressure cuff.
Branches of brachial artery
On its course, the brachial artery gives rise to several side branches, including:
- Deep brachial artery - the largest branch of the brachial artery that arises beneath the tendon of the latissimus dorsi; on its course, it is accompanied by the radial nerve and travels into the radial nerve canal; this artery gives off muscular branches to supply the posterior muscle group of the upper arm and terminates by dividing into two branches - the radial collateral artery and the middle collateral artery;
- Superior ulnar collateral artery - arises from the brachial artery below the origin of the deep brachial artery, travels along the ulnar nerve;
- Inferior ulnar collateral artery - originates from the brachial artery above the medial epicondyle of the humerus, transverses the brachialis muscle anteriorly, and forms an anastomosis with the anterior branch of the recurrent ulnar artery;
- Nutrient branches - supply the humerus.
As mentioned before, the brachial artery divides into two terminal branches in the elbow region:
- Radial artery - originates at the cubital fossa and travels down the lateral side of the forearm;
- Ulnar artery - also arises at the cubital fossa and passes down the forearm on its medial side.
Relations to other structures
The brachial artery is closely related to other structures in the arm. For example, for most of its course, the median nerve travels medially to the brachial artery. The head of the biceps brachii lies lateral to the brachial artery.