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Radial Artery
Cardiovascular System

Radial Artery

Arteria radialis

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Quick Facts

Origin: Brachial artery.

Course: Distally, deep to the brachioradialis muscles along the anterior forearm, to the dorsal aspect of the hand.

Branches: Radial recurrent artery, dorsal carpal, superficial palmar, and palmar carpal branches, deep palmar arch, and princeps pollicis arteries.

Supplied Structures: Muscles on lateral aspect of anterior forearm, superficial radial nerve, elbow joint, hand.

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The radial and the ulnar arteries originate from the brachial artery at the level of the neck of the radius, medial to the tendon of the biceps brachii muscle. The radial artery is the larger of the two terminal branches.


In the forearm, the radial artery courses distally from the cubital fossa, in an inferolateral direction to the wrist. It runs deep to the medial aspect of the brachioradialis muscle. As it descends, it sits on the distal portion of the pronator teres and the flexor pollicis longus muscle. It is accompanied by the superficial radial nerve in the middle one third of the forearm. Distally, it emerges from the distal portion of the brachioradialis muscle and becomes subcutaneous where it sits on the pronator quadratus muscle.

At the wrist it sits between the flexor carpi radialis (medial) and the styloid process of the radius (lateral). The radial pulse can be palpated here. It then crosses from the anterior forearm at the wrist to the dorsal aspect of the hand. It runs deep to the tendon of the abductor pollicis longus and the extensor pollicis brevis muscles. It runs across the scaphoid and the trapezium through the anatomical snuffbox and pierces the first interosseous muscle deep to the extensor pollicis longus muscle. Here, the origin of the cephalic vein crosses over the radial artery.

In the hand it gives several branches which aid in the formation of the carpal and palmar arches. It terminates deep to the oblique head of the adductor pollicis muscle by contributing to the deep palmar arch of the hand.


In the forearm the radial artery gives off the radial recurrent artery deep to the brachioradialis muscle. It also gives off several muscular branches and small branches to the superficial radial nerve.

At the wrist and in the hand, the radial artery gives off branches that contribute to the formation of the carpal and palmar arches of the hand. Before its termination, it gives off the princeps pollicis artery and terminates as the deep palmar arch.

Supplied Structures

The radial artery contributes to the supply of the brachioradialis, extensor carpi radialis longus and brevis, supinator, and brachialis muscles, as well as contributing to the supply of the elbow joint, via the radial recurrent artery.

The radial artery gives muscular branches which contribute to the supply of the lateral aspect of the forearm. These include the pronator teres, flexor carpi radialis, flexor digitorum superficialis, flexor pollicis longus, extensor carpi radialis longus, and extensor carpi radialis brevis muscles.

It gives small branches to the superficial radial nerve and contributes to the palmar and dorsal carpal arches, that supply the wrist joint and the hand (Standring, 2016).


Standring, S. (2016) Gray's Anatomy: The Anatomical Basis of Clinical Practice. Gray's Anatomy Series 41st edn.: Elsevier Limited.

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Radial Artery

ScienceDirect image

The radial artery and its two venae comitantes are invested in a layer of deep fascia known as the lateral intermuscular septum, which separates the flexor and extensor compartments of the forearm and is attached to the periosteum of the radius distal to the insertion of the pronator teres.

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