Blood vessels of the arm and hand

The blood supply to the arm begins with the subclavian artery (a branch of the aorta). The subclavian artery becomes the axillary artery and then the brachial artery which runs down the inner aspect of the upper arm to about 1 cm below the elbow where it divides into the radial and ulnar arteries.

The radial artery runs down the forearm and continues over the carpals to pass between the first and second metacarpals into the palm. The ulnar artery runs down the forearm next to the ulnar bone, across the carpals

Blood vessels of the thoracic and abdominal walls 163

into the palm of the hand. Together, the radial and ulnar arteries form two arches in the hand called the deep and superficial arches. From these arteries branch others to supply blood to the structures of the upper arm, forearm, hand and fingers.

The venous return of blood from the hand begins with the palmar arch and plexus which is a network of capillaries in the palm. The veins that carry deoxygenated blood up the forearm are the radial vein, ulnar vein and median vein.

The radial vein runs parallel to the radius bone of the forearm, the ulnar vein runs parallel to the ulna bone of the forearm and the median vein runs up the middle of the forearm. Just above the elbow, the radial and ulnar veins join to become the brachial vein and the median vein joins the basilic vein which originates just below the elbow along with the cephalic vein.

As the veins continue over the elbow they link to form a network that eventually divides with the basilic vein joining the brachial vein which then becomes the axillary vein. The cephalic vein travels up the arm separately and becomes the subclavian vein in the upper chest.

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