Schematic of the proximal aorta and its branches. The left subclavian artery is the fifth branch of the aorta and the third branch from the arch of the aorta. The right subclavian artery arises from the
The usual branches of the subclavian on both sides of the body are the
From its origin, the subclavian artery travels laterally, passing between anterior and middle
On the right side the subclavian artery arises from the brachiocephalic (innominate) artery behind the right sternoclavicular articulation; on the left side it springs from the arch of the aorta. The two vessels, therefore, in the first part of their course, differ in length, direction, and relation with neighboring structures.
In order to facilitate the description, each subclavian artery is divided into three parts:
The first portions of the two vessels require separate descriptions; the second and third parts of the two arteries are practically alike.
The first part of the right subclavian artery arises from the brachiocephalic trunk, behind the upper part of the right sternoclavicular articulation, and passes upward and lateralward to the medial margin of the Scalenus anterior. It ascends a little above the clavicle, the extent to which it does so varying in different cases.
It is covered, in front, by the integument, superficial fascia, the Platysma (
The first part of the left subclavian artery arises from the arch of the aorta, behind the left common carotid, and at the level of the fourth thoracic vertebra; it ascends in the superior mediastinal cavity to the root of the neck and then arches lateralward to the medial border of the Scalenus anterior.
It is in relation, in front, with the vagus, cardiac, and phrenic nerves, which lie parallel with it, the left common carotid artery, left internal jugular and vertebral veins, and the commencement of the left innominate vein, and is covered by the Sternothyroideus, Sternohyoideus, and Sternocleidomastoideus; behind, it is in relation with the esophagus, thoracic duct, left recurrent laryngeal nerve, inferior cervical ganglion of the sympathetic trunk, and Longus colli; higher up, however, the esophagus and thoracic duct lie to its right side; the latter ultimately arching over the vessel to join the angle of union between the subclavian and internal jugular veins. Medial to it are the esophagus, trachea, thoracic duct, and left recurrent laryngeal nerve; lateral to it, the left pleura and lung.
The second portion of the subclavian artery lies behind the
It is covered, in front, by the skin, the superficial fascia, the Platysma muscle, the deep cervical fascia, the Sternocleidomastoideus, and Scalenus anterior. On the right side of the neck the
The third portion of the subclavian artery runs downward and lateralward from the lateral margin of the Scalenus anterior to the outer border of the first rib, where it becomes the axillary artery. This is the most superficial portion of the vessel, and is contained in the subclavian triangle.
It is covered, in front, by the skin, the superficial fascia, the Platysma, the supraclavicular nerves, and the deep cervical fascia. The external jugular vein crosses its medial part and receives the transverse scapular, transverse cervical, and anterior jugular veins, which frequently form a plexus in front of the artery. Behind the veins, the nerve to the Subclavius descends in front of the artery. The terminal part of the artery lies behind the clavicle and the Subclavius and is crossed by the transverse scapular vessels. The subclavian vein is in front of and at a slightly lower level than the artery. Behind, it lies on the lowest trunk of the brachial plexus, which intervenes between it and the Scalenus medius. Above and to its lateral side are the upper trunks of the brachial plexus and the Omohyoideus. Below, it rests on the upper surface of the first rib.
From its origin to the medial border of
|Runs cranially in the |
|Runs caudally behind the ribs, giving off |
|Very short. Divides into inferior thyroid artery, suprascapular artery and transverse cervical artery (also called cervicodorsal trunk)|
Lying behind scalenus anterior
|Splits into |
Between the lateral border of scalenus anterior and the outer border of the
|From either second or third part. Passes backwards to supply |
Essentially, the 4th aortic arch and dorsal aorta form the aortic arch on the left, but since the right dorsal aorta regresses distal to the right 7th intersegmental artery, on the left they form the proximal portion of the subclavian artery. Since the left subclavian is then a tributary of the left common carotid, they can be thought of as arising from the brachiocephalic trunk.
The subclavian arteries vary in their origin, their course, and the height to which they rise in the neck.
The origin of the right subclavian from the innominate takes place, in some cases, above the sternoclavicular articulation, and occasionally, but less frequently, below that joint. The artery may arise as a separate trunk from the arch of the aorta, and in such cases it may be either the first, second, third, or even the last branch derived from that vessel; in the majority, however, it is the first or last, rarely the second or third. When it is the first branch, it occupies the ordinary position of the innominate artery; when the second or third, it gains its usual position by passing behind the right carotid; and when the last branch, it arises from the left extremity of the arch, and passes obliquely toward the right side, usually behind the trachea, esophagus, and right carotid, sometimes between the esophagus and trachea, to the upper border of the first rib, whence it follows its ordinary course. In very rare instances, this vessel arises from the thoracic aorta, as low down as the fourth thoracic vertebra. Occasionally, it perforates the Scalenus anterior; more rarely it passes in front of that muscle. Sometimes the subclavian vein passes with the artery behind the Scalenus anterior. The artery may ascend as high as 4 cm. above the clavicle, or any intermediate point between this and the upper border of the bone, the right subclavian usually ascending higher than the left.
The left subclavian is occasionally joined at its origin with the left
The left subclavian artery is more deeply placed than the right in the first part of its course, and, as a rule, does not reach quite as high a level in the neck. The posterior border of the Sternocleidomastoideus corresponds pretty closely to the lateral border of the Scalenus anterior, so that the third portion of the artery, the part most accessible for operation, lies immediately lateral to the posterior border of the Sternocleidomastoideus.
Some authors describe the subclavian artery as arising from the 7th intersegmental artery.