Internal thoracic artery

In human anatomy, the internal thoracic artery (ITA), previously known as the internal mammary artery (a name still common among surgeons), is an artery that supplies the anterior chest wall and the breasts. It is a paired artery, with one running on each side of the body.


The internal thoracic artery arises from the subclavian artery near its origin.

It travels downward on the inside of the ribcage, approximately a centimeter from the sides of the sternum, and thus medial to the nipple.

It runs posterior to the internal intercostal muscles, but anterior to the transverse thoracic muscles.

It continues downward until it divides into the musculophrenic artery and the superior epigastric artery around the sixth intercostal space.


After passing the sixth intercostal space, the internal thoracic artery splits into the following two terminal branches:

Revascularization with the ITA

The internal thoracic artery is the cardiac surgeon's blood vessel of choice for coronary artery bypass grafting. The left ITA has a superior long-term patency to saphenous vein grafts and other arterial grafts (e.g. radial artery, gastroepiploic artery) when grafted to the left anterior descending coronary artery, generally the most important vessel, clinically, to revascularize.

Additional images


External links

  • - Internal thoracic artery

Figures of ITA grafts

Search another word or see Internal_thoracic_arteryon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature