Brachial artery

Last revised by Craig Hacking on 16 Apr 2024

The brachial artery is the main supply of arterial blood to the arm, forearm, and hand

The brachial artery is the continuation of the axillary artery at the inferior border of teres major.

At its origin, it lies medial to the humerus where it is accompanied by the basilic vein and median nerve. It sits medial to the biceps brachii muscle and anterior to the medial head of triceps.

Distally, as it approaches the elbow, it lies anterior to the humerus and passes under the lacertus fibrosus before entering the cubital fossa.

The profunda brachii is the first and main branch of the brachial artery. It arises above the midpoint of the upper arm on the medial aspect of the vessel. As it courses posteriorly, it sweeps posterolaterally to the humerus to end up lateral and posterior to the elbow.

Distal to the profunda, the brachial artery gives off nutrient vessels to the humerus as it courses medially in the upper arm.

As it approaches the elbow, it gives off the superior and inferior ulnar collateral arteries which forms part of the arterial anastomosis of the elbow . Both ulnar collateral arteries arise from the medial aspect of the brachial artery and course distally towards the medial aspect of the elbow.

The brachial artery bifurcates into the radial artery and ulnar artery in the cubital fossa at the level of the radial neck, below the bicipital aponeurosis 1.

The brachial artery supplies blood to the muscles of the upper arm by its branches and to the forearm and hand, by its continuation as the radial and ulnar arteries.

The vessel can be well visualized using ultrasound and MRI.  It is visualized in radial approaches for angiography and may be used as vascular access for some procedures. It can be well depicted using CT angiography, although indications for such imaging is rare. Modalities used to assess the brachial artery include:

  • US doppler upper limb

  • MRI shoulder, MRI brachial plexus, MRA upper limb

  • CTA upper limb

  • upper limb angiogram, radial access for coronary angiogram

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