ORIGIN: Subclavian artery


COURSE/DISTRIBUTION:  Arises from the first part of the subclavian artery, medial to the medial border of the scalenus anterior and immediately escapes into the foramen transversarium of C6, where it ascends in the foramina transversaria of all cervical vertebrae (excepting the C7). It emerges behind the lateral mass of the atlas and enters the skull, passing through the foramen magnum. Lying on the ventral aspect of the medulla and then the pons, it ends at the lower border of the pons by joining the vertebral artery of the opposite side to form the basilar artery.  For ease of description, it is divided into 4 parts as follows-

1st part begins at the junction with the subclavian artery to reach the foramen transversarium of C6. It runs upwards and backwards between the longus colli and scalenus anterior but posterior to the common carotid artery.

2nd part begins at the foramen transversarium of C6 vertebra and ascends in the foramina transversaria of all other upper cervical vertebrae. A branch of the stellate ganglion and vertebral vein accompanies it.

3rd part begins proximal to the foramen transversarium of the atlas on the medial side of the rectus capitis lateralis, with the ventral ramus of C1 nerve on its medial aspect. It enters the vertebral canal.

4th part begins at the vertebral canal and it pierces the dura and arachnoid to enter the foramen magnum in front of the roots of the hypoglossal nerve. It ends at the lower part of the pons.



  • Spinal branches
  • Muscular branches
  • Meningeal branches (posterior meningeal artery)
  • Posterior spinal artery
  • Anterior spinal artery
  • Posterior inferior cerebellar artery
  • Basilar artery.
  • Posterior meningeal artery





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Electronic School of Medicine
Creator:Oluwole Ogunranti

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