4.1. Introducing the Arteries of the Thorax
How to Study the Arteries of the Thorax
The arteries of the thorax are best described in a structured way. We’ll begin with the aortic arch. The aortic arch is a continuation of the ascending aorta, which itself leaves the left ventricle of the heart. The aortic arch continues as the descending (or thoracic) aorta, which supplies the thorax and eventually the abdomen, pelvis and lower limbs.
The aortic arch generally supplies blood in one of three directions: upwards (superiorly) to the head and neck, laterally (sideways) to the upper limbs, or downwards (inferiorly) to the lower thorax, abdomen, pelvis and lower limbs. The main paired arteries that travel superiorly are the common carotid arteries. The main paired arteries that travel laterally to the arms are the subclavian arteries. The three main arteries that travel inferiorly are the unpaired descending (or thoracic) aorta and the paired internal thoracic arteries. This section examines all of these arteries in detail.