Posterior intercostal arteries

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Artery: Posterior intercostal arteries
Gray530.png
The thoracic aorta, viewed from the left side. (Intercostals visible at right.)
Latin arteriae intercostales posteriores
Gray's p.600
Source 1-2: supreme intercostal
3-11: thoracic
Vein Posterior intercostal veins

The posterior intercostal arteries are arteries that supply blood to the intercostal spaces.

There are eleven posterior intercostal arteries on each side.

The right aortic intercostals are longer than the left because of the position of the aorta on the left side of the vertebral column; they pass across the bodies of the vertebrae behind the esophagus, thoracic duct, and azygos vein, and are covered by the right lung and pleura.

The left aortic intercostals run backward on the sides of the vertebrae and are covered by the left lung and pleura; the upper two vessels are crossed by the left superior intercostal vein, the lower vessels by the hemiazygos vein.

Opposite the heads of the ribs, the sympathetic trunk passes downward in front of them, and the splanchnic nerves also descend in front by the lower arteries.

Each artery then divides into an anterior and a posterior ramus.

A given posterior intercostal artery travels along the bottom of the rib with its corresponding posterior intercostal vein, as well as the intercostal nerve of the given space. The vein is superior to the artery, and the intercostal nerve is inferior to it. Commonly, the mnemonic, "Van," is used to recall the order of the vein, artery and nerve, from superior to inferior.

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This article incorporates text from a public domain edition of Gray's Anatomy.