Brachiocephalic artery

Brachiocephalic artery.
Schematic of the proximal aorta, frontal view. The brachiocephalic artery is the third branch of the aorta and the first branch from the arch of the aorta. The heart in the lower left is not shown.
Relations of the aorta, trachea, esophagus and other heart structures.png
Course of the ascending aorta (anterior view), as it passes dorsally to the pulmonary trunk but ventrally to the right pulmonary artery.
Source aortic arch
Branches right common carotid artery
right subclavian artery
thyroid ima artery
Vein brachiocephalic vein
Latin truncus brachiocephalicus
MeSH D016122
TA98 A12.2.04.004
TA2 4179
FMA 3932
Anatomical terminology

The brachiocephalic artery (or brachiocephalic trunk or innominate artery[1]) is an artery of the mediastinum that supplies blood to the right arm and the head and neck.

It is the first branch of the aortic arch.[1] Soon after it emerges, the brachiocephalic artery divides into the right common carotid artery and the right subclavian artery.

There is no brachiocephalic artery for the left side of the body. The left common carotid, and the left subclavian artery, come directly off the aortic arch. However, there are two brachiocephalic veins.


The brachiocephalic artery arises, on a level with the upper border of the second right costal cartilage, from the start of the aortic arch,[1] on a plane anterior to the origin of the left carotid artery. It ascends obliquely upward, backward, and to the right to the level of the upper border of the right sternoclavicular articulation, where it divides into the right common carotid artery and right subclavian arteries. The artery then crosses the trachea in front of it obliquely from the left to the right, roughly at the middle of the trachea or the level of the ninth tracheal cartilage.

In infants, it often divides cephalad to the sternoclavicular articulation, within the anterior triangle of the neck.


The thyroid ima artery ascends in front of the trachea to the lower part of the thyroid, which it supplies.


The innominate artery usually gives off no branches, but occasionally a small branch, the thyroid ima artery, arises from it. Other times, it gives off a thymic or bronchial branch.

It varies greatly in size, and appears to compensate for deficiency or absence of one of the other thyroid vessels. It occasionally arises from the aorta, the right common carotid, the subclavian or the internal mammary.[citation needed]

Additional images


Public domain This article incorporates text in the public domain from page 548 of the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)

External links