Ulnar artery

Ulnar artery and its branchesAnatomical features of the ulnar artery and its branches together with blood supply areas and anastomoses
~ 3 min

The arteries of the upper limb supply the bones and soft tissues of the pectoral girdle, the lateral part of the thoracic wall, as well as all organs and tissues of the free part of the upper limb with blood.

In this video, we will consider the anatomy of the ulnar artery (arteria ulnar) and its branches, as well as the area of blood supply.

Ulnar artery (arteria ulnaris)
Ulnar artery (arteria ulnaris)

The ulnar artery (arteria ulnaris) is one of the terminal branches of the brachial artery (arteria brachialis).

Brachial artery (arteria brachialis)
Brachial artery (arteria brachialis)

Together with the ulnar nerve, it is located in the ulnar groove between the flexor digitorum superficialis and profundus muscle groups. Then, through a gap in the medial part of the flexor retinaculum and under the muscles of the hypothenar eminence, the ulnar artery passes into the palm.

Ulnar artery (arteria ulnaris)
Ulnar artery (arteria ulnaris)

This is where the superficial palmar arc (arcus palmaris superficialis) ends

Superficial palmar arc (arcus palmaris superficialis)
Superficial palmar arc (arcus palmaris superficialis)

It anastomoses with the superficial palmar branch of the radial artery.

Like most arteries, along its the entire length it gives rise to muscular branches (rami musculares), which supply the muscles of the forearm with blood.

Let’s consider the major branches of the vessel:

The ulnar recurrens artery (arteria recurrens ulnaris) arises in the proximal part of the ulnar artery and is divided into a large anterior and a smaller posterior branch.

Ulnar recurrens artery (arteria recurrens ulnaris)
Ulnar recurrens artery (arteria recurrens ulnaris)
Ulnar recurrens artery (arteria recurrens ulnaris)
Ulnar recurrens artery (arteria recurrens ulnaris)
  • The anterior branch (ramus anterior) goes in the superior direction into the medial anterior ulnar sulcus and anastomoses with the inferior ulnar collateral artery (branch of the brachial artery).

    Anterior branch (ramus anterior)
    Anterior branch (ramus anterior)
    Anterior branch (ramus anterior)
    Anterior branch (ramus anterior)
  • The posterior branch (ramus posterior) goes to the posterior side of the elbow joint, where it anastomoses in the medial posterior bicipital groove with the superior ulnar collateral artery (branch of the brachial artery).

    Posterior branch (ramus posterior)
    Posterior branch (ramus posterior)
    Posterior branch (ramus posterior)
    Posterior branch (ramus posterior)

    The common interosseous artery (arteria interossea communis) arises slightly distal to the ulnar recurrent artery.

    Common interosseous artery (arteria interossea communis)
    Common interosseous artery (arteria interossea communis)
    Common interosseous artery (arteria interossea communis)
    Common interosseous artery (arteria interossea communis)

    It goes towards the interosseous membrane, where it divides into two branches: the anterior and posterior interosseous arteries.

  • The anterior interosseous artery (arteria interossea anterior) is located along the anterior surface of the interosseous membrane to the upper edge of the pronator quadratus, gives a branch to the palmar arch of the wrist, penetrates the interosseous membrane in the distal part and participates in the formation of the dorsal carpal arch.

    Anterior interosseous artery (arteria interossea anterior)
    Anterior interosseous artery (arteria interossea anterior)

    On the forearm, the median artery (arteria comitans nervi mediani) arises from it.

    Median artery (arteria comitans nervi mediani)
    Median artery (arteria comitans nervi mediani)
  • The posterior interosseous artery (arteria interossea posterior) pierces the interosseous membrane in the proximal part and goes in the distal direction between the extensors of the forearm.

It anastomoses with the anterior interosseous artery and with the dorsal carpal branches of the ulnar and radial arteries and participate in the formation of the dorsal carpal arch (rete carpalis dorsalis), from which the dorsal metacarpal arteries arise.

Dorsal carpal arch (rete carpalis dorsalis)
Dorsal carpal arch (rete carpalis dorsalis)

At its beginning, it gives off the recurrent interosseous artery (arteria interossea recurrens), which follows in the superior direction under the lateral tendon bundles of the triceps brachii muscle to the lateral posterior ulnar sulcus.

Recurrent interosseous artery (arteria interossea recurrens)
Recurrent interosseous artery (arteria interossea recurrens)
Recurrent interosseous artery (arteria interossea recurrens)
Recurrent interosseous artery (arteria interossea recurrens)

It anastomoses with the middle collateral artery (a branch of the deep brachial artery) and participates in the formation of the cubital anastomosis (rete articularis cubiti).

Cubital anastomosis (rete articularis cubiti)
Cubital anastomosis (rete articularis cubiti)

The next major branch, the palmar carpal branch (ramus carpalis palmaris) arises at the level of the styloid process of the ulna.

Palmar carpal branch (ramus carpalis palmaris)
Palmar carpal branch (ramus carpalis palmaris)

Together with the branches of the radial artery of the same name and the anterior interosseous artery, it participates in the formation of the palmar carpal arch (rete carpalis palmaris), supplying the joints with blood.

Palmar carpal arch (rete carpalis palmaris)
Palmar carpal arch (rete carpalis palmaris)

The deep palmar branch (ramus palmaris profundus) pierces the opponens digiti minimi muscle along its length and supplies the muscles of the eminence and the skin in the hypothenar region with blood.

Deep palmar branch (ramus palmaris profundus)
Deep palmar branch (ramus palmaris profundus)

The terminal part of the ulnar artery anastomoses with the superficial palmar branch of the radial artery, forming a superficial palmar arch, from which the common palmar digital arteries (arteriae digitales palmares communes) arise.

Common palmar digital arteries (arteriae digitales palmares communes)
Common palmar digital arteries (arteriae digitales palmares communes)

From these arteries, in turn, proper palmar digital arteries (arteriae digitales palmares proprii) arise to adjacent sides of adjacent fingers.

Proper palmar digital arteries (arteriae digitales palmares proprii)
Proper palmar digital arteries (arteriae digitales palmares proprii)
Dictionary

Ulnar artery and its branches

Brachial artery
a. brachialis
Ulnar artery
a. ulnaris
Superficial palmar arch
arcus palmaris superficialis
Muscular branches
rr. musculares
Ulnar recurrent artery
a. recurrens ulnaris
Anterior branch
r. anterior
Posterior branch
r. posterior
Common interosseousartery
a. interossea communis
Anterior interosseous artery
a. interossea anterior
Median artery
a. comitans nervi mediani
Posterior interosseousartery
a. interossea posterior
Dorsal carpal arch
rete carpalis dorsalis
Recurrent interosseousartery
a. interossea recurrens
Cubital anastomosis
rete articularis cubiti
Palmar carpal branch
r. carpalis palmaris
Palmar carpal arch
rete carpalis palmaris
Deep palmar branch
r. palmaris profundus
Common palmar digitalarteries
aa. digitales palmarescommunes
Proper palmar digitalarteries
aa. digitales palmares proprii
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