Subclavian artery

The subclavian artery (Latin: arteria subclavia) is a major blood vessel located in the thorax that provides blood supply to the upper limb. Some of its branches also participate in supplying head and neck.


Course and branches

The subclavian arteries arise asymmetrically but follow similar courses. On the left side, the subclavian artery branches off directly from the arch of the aorta. The right subclavian artery arises from the brachiocephalic trunk as it goes posteriorly to the sternoclavicular joint. Further, the subclavian artery passes laterally upwards, between the anterior and middle scalene muscles. When the subclavian artery crosses the lateral border of the first rib, it continues as the axillary artery.

On its course, the subclavian artery gives rise to several side branches, including:

The subclavian arteries supply the posterior cerebral circulation, the cerebellum, the back of the neck, the upper limbs, as well as the superior anterior chest wall.