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Brachiocephalic Trunk
Cardiovascular System

Brachiocephalic Trunk

Truncus brachiocephalicus

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Quick Facts

Origin: Aortic arch.

Course: Ascends posterolaterally to the right.

Branches: Right common carotid and right subclavian arteries.

Supplied Structures: Right side of head and neck, and right upper limb.

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The brachiocephalic artery is the first and largest branch of the aortic arch. It arises posteriorly to the manubrium of the sternum.


The brachiocephalic trunk ascends in the superior mediastinum, posterolaterally and to the right. It crosses anteriorly to the trachea to reach the level of the right sternoclavicular joint. Here, it bifurcates into the right common carotid and right subclavian arteries.


There are usually no branches arising from the brachiocephalic trunk. Sometimes, a thymic or bronchial branch, or the tyroidea ima artery (10% of individuals) may arise from the brachiocephalic trunk. In 27% of individuals, the left common carotid artery arises from the brachiocephalic trunk. Additionally, the brachiocephalic trunk may fail to form (~2.5%) and the right common carotid and right subclavian arteries arise directly from the aortic arch. In 1.2% of individuals, a right and left brachiocephalic trunk arises from the aortic arch (Tubbs, Shoja and Loukas, 2016).

Supplied Structures

The brachiocephalic artery provides arterial supply to the right side of the head and neck, and the right upper limb via the right common carotid and right subclavian arteries, respectively.


Tubbs, R. S., Shoja, M. M. and Loukas, M. (2016) Bergman's Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Human Anatomic Variation. Wiley.

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Brachiocephalic Trunk

ScienceDirect image

A brachiocephalic trunk (bcph) originates from the convexity of the aorta and gives origin to the right subclavian and right common carotid artery (cctd).

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