Radial artery

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


In human anatomy, the radial artery is the main blood vessel, with oxygenated blood, of the lateral aspect of the forearm.


The radial artery arises from the bifurcation of the brachial artery in the cubital fossa. It runs distally down the anterior part of the forearm. There, it serves as a landmark for the division between the anterior and posterior compartments of the forearm, with the posterior compartment beginning just lateral to the artery. The artery winds laterally around the wrist, passing through the anatomical snuff box and between the heads of the first dorsal interosseous muscle. It passes anteriorly between the heads of the adductor pollicis, and becomes the deep palmar arch, which joins with the deep branch of the ulnar artery.

Along its course, it is accompanied by a similarly named vein, the radial vein.


The named branches of the radial artery may be divided into three groups, corresponding with the three regions in which the vessel is situated.

In the Forearm

At the Wrist

  • Dorsal carpal branch of radial artery - a small vessel which arises beneath the extensor tendons of the thumb
  • First dorsal metacarpal artery - arises just before the radial artery passes between the two heads of the first dorsal interosseous muscle and divides almost immediately into two branches which supply the adjacent sides of the thumb and index finger; the lateral side of the thumb receives a branch directly from the radial artery.

In the Hand

  • Princeps pollicis artery - arises from the radial artery just as it turns medially to the deep part of the hand.
  • Radialis indicis - arises close to the princeps pollicis. The two arteries may arise from a common trunk, the first palmar metacarpal artery.
  • Deep palmar arch - terminal part of radial artery.

Clinical significance

The artery's pulse is palpable in the anatomical snuff box and on the anterior aspect of the arm over the carpal bones (where it is commonly used to assess the heart rate and cardiac rhythm).

The radial artery is used for coronary artery bypass grafting and is growing in popularity among cardiac surgeons.[2] Recently, it has been shown to have a superior peri-operative and post-operative course when compared to saphenous vein grafts.[3]

See also

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  1. ^ Sajja LR, Mannam G, Pantula NR, Sompalli S. Role of radial artery graft in coronary artery bypass grafting. Ann Thorac Surg. 2005 Jun;79(6):2180-8. PMID 15919345
  2. ^ Cohen G, Tamariz MG, Sever JY, Liaghati N, Guru V, Christakis GT, Bhatnagar G, Cutrara C, Abouzahr L, Goldman BS, Fremes SE. The radial artery versus the saphenous vein graft in contemporary CABG: a case-matched study. Ann Thorac Surg. 2001 Jan;71(1):180-5; discussion 185-6. PMID 11216742

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