Radial artery

Radial artery
Palm of left hand, showing position of skin creases and bones, and surface markings for the volar arches.
Ulnar and radial arteries. Deep view.
Latin Arteria radialis
brachial artery
radial vein
Gray's p.592
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Anatomical terminology

In human anatomy, the radial artery is the main artery of the lateral aspect of the forearm.


The radial artery arises from the bifurcation of the brachial artery in the cubital fossa. It runs distally on the anterior part of the forearm. There, it serves as a landmark for the division between the anterior and posterior compartments of the forearm, with the posterior compartment beginning just lateral to the artery. The artery winds laterally around the wrist, passing through the anatomical snuff box and between the heads of the first dorsal interosseous muscle. It passes anteriorly between the heads of the adductor pollicis, and becomes the deep palmar arch, which joins with the deep branch of the ulnar artery.

Along its course, it is accompanied by a similarly named vein, the radial vein.


The named branches of the radial artery may be divided into three groups, corresponding with the three regions in which the vessel is situated.

In the Forearm

At the Wrist

  • Dorsal carpal branch of radial artery - a small vessel which arises beneath the extensor tendons of the thumb
  • First dorsal metacarpal artery - arises just before the radial artery passes between the two heads of the first dorsal interosseous muscle and divides almost immediately into two branches which supply the adjacent sides of the thumb and index finger; the lateral side of the thumb receives a branch directly from the radial artery.

In the Hand

  • Princeps pollicis artery - arises from the radial artery just as it turns medially to the deep part of the hand.
  • Radialis indicis - arises close to the princeps pollicis. The two arteries may arise from a common trunk, the first palmar metacarpal artery.
  • Deep palmar arch - terminal part of radial artery.

Clinical significance

The radial artery lies superficially in front of the distal end of the radius, between the tendons of the brachioradialis and flexor carpi radialis; it is here that clinician takes the radial pulse. (where it is commonly used to assess the heart rate and cardiac rhythm). Presence of radial pulse has been estimated to indicate a systolic blood pressure of more than 70 mmHg, as estimated from the 50% percentile.[1] The radial artery can be less easily felt as it crosses the anatomical snuff box. The radial artery is used for coronary artery bypass grafting and is growing in popularity among cardiac surgeons.[1] Recently, it has been shown to have a superior peri-operative and post-operative course when compared to saphenous vein grafts.[2]

See also

Radial artery cannulation is now a common practice in heart catheter. It is much preferred over femoral approach due to better accessibility, hemostasis and shorter hospital stay.

Additional images


This article incorporates text in the public domain from the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)

  1. ^ Deakin CD, Low JL (September 2000). "Accuracy of the advanced trauma life support guidelines for predicting systolic blood pressure using carotid, femoral, and radial pulses: observational study". BMJ 321 (7262): 673–4. PMC 27481. PMID 10987771. doi:10.1136/bmj.321.7262.673. 
  1. ^ Sajja LR, Mannam G, Pantula NR, Sompalli S. Role of radial artery graft in coronary artery bypass grafting. Ann Thorac Surg. 2005 Jun;79(6):2180-8. PMID 15919345
  2. ^ Cohen G, Tamariz MG, Sever JY, Liaghati N, Guru V, Christakis GT, Bhatnagar G, Cutrara C, Abouzahr L, Goldman BS, Fremes SE. The radial artery versus the saphenous vein graft in contemporary CABG: a case-matched study. Ann Thorac Surg. 2001 Jan;71(1):180-5; discussion 185-6. PMID 11216742

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