Aortic Arch

Human anatomy > Circulatory System > Aortic Arch

Arteries carry blood away from the heart. The body’s tissues depend on the largest artery of the body (the aorta). The aorta carries and distributes oxygenated blood to the tissues of the body for nutrition. Anatomists describe the aorta in several portions; namely, the ascending aorta, the arch of the aorta and the descending aorta.  

What is the description and location of the aortic arch?

The aortic arch is synonymous to the Arch of Aorta. It is a bow-like structure. It is the curving portion between the ascending aorta and the descending aorta. This structure gives rise to the brachiocephalic trunk, the left common carotid artery and the left subclavian artery.

Aortic Arch

The plura and anterior margins of the lungs cover the arch of the aorta. The remains of the thymus also contribute to the covering of the arch of the aorta. 

The arch of the aorta starts at the height of the upper portion of the second sternocostal articulation of the right side. It then runs upward, then backward, and then to the left in front of the trachea. Afterwards, it goes backward on the left side of the trachea and finally, it passes downward on the left side of the body of the fourth thoracic vertebra. At the lower border of the thoracic vertebra, it becomes uninterrupted with the descending aorta. It then forms two curvatures. One of these curvatures curves upward, while the other curves forward and to the left. Its upper border usually measures about two and a half centimeters below the superior border to the manubrium sterni.

What are the branches of the aortic arch?

Similar to other portions of the aorta, the aortic arch forms branches. The innominate branch, the left common carotid and the left subclavian branch form the three branches given off by the aortic arch.

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