Brachial artery

The brachial artery (Latin: arteria brachialis) is a major blood vessel in the upper arm that supplies oxygenated blood to the upper limb. It 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 two terminal branches - radial artery and ulnar artery. The radial artery travels down the lateral side of the forearm, while the ulnar artery - passes down on the medial side. On its course, the brachial artery gives rise to several side branches, including:

  • Deep brachial artery
  • Superior ulnar collateral artery
  • Inferior ulnar collateral artery
  • Nutrient branches

The deep brachial artery is the largest branch of the brachial artery that arises beneath the tendon of the latissimus dorsi muscle. On its course, it is accompanied by the radial nerve and travels into the radial nerve canal. The deep brachial artery gives off muscular branches to supply the posterior muscle group of the upper arm. The artery terminates by dividing into two branches - radial collateral artery and middle collateral artery.

The superior ulnar collateral artery arises from the brachial artery below the origin of the deep brachial artery, and travels along the ulnar nerve. The 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. The brachial artery also gives off several nutrient branches to supply the humerus.

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. It is possible to palpate the pulse of the brachial artery on the anterior aspect of the elbow joint, medial to the tendon of the biceps brachii. This is often used to measure blood pressure with a stethoscope and a blood pressure cuff.