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The thoracodorsal nerve arises from the posterior cord of the brachial plexus with fibers from the sixth, seventh and eighth cervical nerves.
Course and relations
After branching from the posterior cord between the upper and lower subscapular nerves, the thoracodorsal nerve runs down the posterior axillary wall. At its origin it is posterior to the subscapular artery. However, as it descends along the posterior wall of the axilla it comes to lie anterior to the artery, then called the thoracodorsal artery.
The thoracodorsal nerve crosses the lower border of the teres major muscle and enters the deep surface of the latissimus dorsi with terminal branches of the nerve extending to the inferior border of the muscle.
Branches and supply
The thoracodorsal nerve supplies the latissimus dorsi muscle.
The thoracodorsal nerve may be damaged in surgical procedures of the lower axilla. The nerve supply is preserved in surgical flaps involving the latissimus dorsi and occasionally the nerve is harvested and grafted for facial nerve reconstruction.