Ulnar artery

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The ulnar artery is a terminal branch of the brachial artery.

Ulnar artery
Forearm arteries.gif
Arteries of the forearm
System: Arterial
Function:
Origin: Brachial artery
Branches: Anterior ulnar recurrent artery, posterior ulnar recurrent artery, common interosseous artery, palmar carpal branch, dorsal carpal branch, deep palmar branch, superficial palmar arch
Insertion:
Arterial supply: To muscles of the medial forearm and medial hand, common flexor sheath, ulnar nerve
Venous drainage:
Lymphatic drainage:
Innervation:
Vertebral levels:
Search for Ulnar artery in Gray's.


Contents

Surface Anatomy

The course of the ulnar artery can be represented by the distal two thirds of a line from the lateral side of pisiform to the medial epicondyle; its upper third by a line from a short distance below the centre of the cubital fossa to join the first line. It may sometimes be felt by deep palpation at the wrist although is usually impalpable.

Anatomical Course

The artery is the larger of the two terminal branches of the brachial artery, which divides above the neck of radius. It moves medially across the forearm beneath the muscles of the common flexor origin, to lie upon flexor digitorum profundus beneath flexor carpi ulnaris. From the midpoint of the forearm it continues down the medial side in a straight line, crossing the flexor retinaculum lateral to the ulnar nerve and pisiform. It gives off its deep branch before becoming the superficial palmar arch.

Branches

Palmar carpal branch

A small branch, it traverses the distal ulna beneath the flexor digitorum profundus tendons. Its anastamosis contributes to the palmar carpal arch.

Dorsal carpal branch

This branch arises just proximal to pisiform. It travels deep to the tendon of flexor carpi ulnaris, onto the dorsal surface of the carpal bones. It travels deep to the extensor tendons, forming the dorsal carpal arch by its anastamosis. It supplies a small digital branch to the medial side of the posterior surface of the little finger.

Deep palmar branch

Passes between flexor digiti minimi and abductor digiti minimi, either deep to or through opponens digiti minimi, alongside the deep terminal branch of the ulnar nerve. Its anastamosis completes the deep palmar arch.

Other branches

Relations

Venae comitantes

Two paired venae comitantes surround the artery throughout its course. These originate from tributaries which are themselves venae comitantes of the branches of the ulnar artery, and drain into the brachial vein.

Proximal forearm

Anterior:

Medial:

Posterior:

Distal forearm

Anterior:

  • Skin
  • Superficial and deep fasciae

Posterior:

Medial:

Laterally:

Anastamoses

Arterial Supply to

  • Muscles of the medial forearm
  • Medial hand
  • Ulnar nerve
  • Common flexor sheath

Variations

  • Often arises proximal to the elbow, most commonly from the brachial artery but maybe from the axillary artery
  • A proximal origin changes the course of the artery to run superficial to the forearm flexors, whilst the common interosseous is supplied by the brachial artery.
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