Perforating branches of internal thoracic artery

Last revised by Assoc Prof Frank Gaillard on 19 Feb 2018

Perforating branches of the internal thoracic arteries arise from the paired internal thoracic arteries (also known as internal mammary arteries) and run in the superior six intercostal spaces. These arteries pierce the internal intercostal muscles and pectoralis major, contributing to the blood supply of these muscles and the overlying skin and fascia 1.

They are frequently accompanied by venous perforators and the anterior cutaneous branches of the intercostal nerves; wide variation in their course and length exists between individuals 2,3.

During lactation, the second to fourth perforating arteries increase in size to supply the mammary glands 4.

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