Skip to main content

Unfortunately we don't fully support your browser. If you have the option to, please upgrade to a newer version or use Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, or Safari 14 or newer. If you are unable to, and need support, please send us your feedback.

Publish with us
Posterior Intercostal Arteries (Left)
Cardiovascular System

Posterior Intercostal Arteries (Left)

Arteriae intercostales posteriores

Read more


There are eleven pairs of posterior intercostal arteries that travel within the eleven intercostal spaces.

The first and second posterior intercostal arteries differ from the other posterior intercostal arteries, since they arise from the supreme intercostal artery, a branch of the costocervical artery. The remaining intercostal arteries arise from the posterolateral descending thoracic aorta. The right posterior intercostal arteries are longer than their left counterparts (since the descending thoracic aorta sits to the left of the midline); thus the right posterior intercostal arteries must travel over the vertebral bodies. When it reaches the intercostal space, the posterior intercostal artery is situated, firstly, between the pleura of the lungs and the internal intercostal membranes and muscle, then between the innermost and internal intercostal muscles.

The posterior intercostal artery extends anteriorly, lying within the costal groove of the rib above and accompanied by a vein superiorly and a nerve inferiorly (i.e., the posterior intercostal vein and anterior ramus of thoracic nerve). It continues to travel in the intercostal space and anastomoses with the anterior intercostal branches of the internal thoracic artery. Along its path, the posterior intercostal arteries give off dorsal, collateral, and lateral cutaneous branches, which are responsibly for supplying structures of the thoracic wall.

Complete Anatomy
The world's most advanced 3D anatomy platform
Try it for Free

Learn more about this topic from other Elsevier products


ScienceDirect image

When the artery is occluded blood is forced through the collateral vessels, drastically increasing fluid shear stress and triggering an inflammatory response which drives vessel remodeling.

Explore on ScienceDirect(opens in new tab/window)

Complete Anatomy

The world's most advanced 3D anatomy platform

Complete Anatomy