Thoracic Aorta

This arch-like structure is crucial for blood circulation, as it gives rise to three important arteries that supply blood to various organs of the body. The brachiocephalic artery, the left common carotid artery and the left subclavian artery originate from the aortic arch. The brachiocephalic artery trunk divides into two branches: the right common carotid artery and the right subclavian artery. The left common carotid artery and the left subclavian artery extend to the left.

The aortic arch is visible on a chest x-ray as a shadow called an aortic button. This image allows medical professionals to diagnose abnormalities in the structure of the aortic arch or the arteries that flow from it. Abnormalities such as coarctation of the aorta, aneurysmal dilatation or stenosis can have serious consequences on blood flow and require medical intervention.

The aortic arch is a vital structure for blood flow in the human body. It is important for health care professionals to monitor the condition of the aortic arch and the arteries that flow from it to detect any abnormalities that can have serious consequences on the health of patients.


Definition and Meaning

The thoracic aorta is the part of the aorta that lies in the rib cage, the area of the body between the base of the neck and the diaphragm. It is the largest artery in the human body, carrying oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The thoracic aorta begins at the upper opening of the chest and extends to the diaphragm, where it becomes the abdominal aorta. The thoracic aorta is subdivided into three parts: the ascending aorta, the aortic arch and the descending aorta. Diseases of the thoracic aorta, such as aortic dissection or aortic aneurysm, can be serious and often require surgery.

Anatomy of the aortic arch

The aortic arch is the second portion of the thoracic aorta. It begins at the level of the upper border of the second right sternocostal joint and ends at the level of the fourth thoracic vertebra. It forms two curves:

  • one convex upward to bypass the root of the left lung,
  • one convex forward and to the left to bypass the trachea and esophagus.

The superior border of the aortic arch is usually about 2.5 cm below the superior border of the sternal manubrium.

The branches of the aortic arch

The aortic arch gives rise on its superior surface to three main arteries:

  • the brachiocephalic arterial trunk,
    •  It is the main artery that supplies oxygen and nutrients to the brain, eyes and ears.
  • The left common carotid artery,
    • It supplies the structures of the head and neck with oxygen
  • the left subclavian artery.
    • It supplies oxygen to the arms and shoulders.

In brief

The aortic arch is an important part of the thoracic aorta that plays a crucial role in blood circulation. It is located in the mediastinum and connects the ascending aorta to the descending aorta through two curves to bypass the thoracic organs. It gives rise to three main arteries that supply the vital organs with oxygen and nutrients. The chest x-ray shows the aortic arch as a shadow called the aortic button.