Subcostal artery

Last revised by Francis Deng on 2 Apr 2021

The subcostal arteries are bilateral small arteries that arise from the distal descending thoracic aorta and course beneath the 12th rib. In part supplying the vertebra and spinal cord, they are considered one of the segmental arteries of the aorta.

Gross Anatomy

The subcostal arteries are analogous to the posterior intercostal arteries, instead in the subcostal space rather than an intercostal space. They pass in front of the T12 vertebrae and behind the sympathetic trunk, pleura, and diaphragm. On the right, the subcostal artery also runs posterior to the thoracic duct and azygos vein, whereas the left runs posterior to the accessory hemiazygos vein.

The artery enters the abdomen along the inferior border of the twelfth rib, under the lateral arcuate ligament. It runs laterally with the subcostal nerve and vein on the anterior lumbar fascia passing between quadratus lumborum and the kidney 3.

It reaches the neurovascular plane of the anterior abdominal wall by piercing the transversus abdominis aponeurosis to anastomose with the superior epigastric, lower posterior intercostal and upper lumbar arteries


The subcostal artery divides into the anterior and posterior rami like the posterior intercostal artery.


Along with the lower posterior intercostal arteries, the subcostal arteries supply the muscles and skin beneath the 12th rib of the anterolateral abdominal wall.

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