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Internal thoracic artery

from Latin: arteria – artery; thorax - chest
Synonyms: internal mammary artery
Abbreviations: IMA, RIMA, LIMA, ITA, RITA, LITA
German: Arteria thoracica interna

1 Definition

The internal thoracic artery is a small branch of the subclavian artery of which the further branches supply the intercostal muscles of the chest wall, the diaphragm and the mamma.

2 Course

The internal thoracic artery arises from the subclavian artery – shortly after the origin. Approximately 1 cm laterally of the sternum, it extends caudally towards the chest cavity. In its course, it supplies the anterior intercostal arteries, which extend into the intercostal space, where they anastomise with the posterior intercostal arteries. At approximately the level of the 6th intercostal space, it divides into its two terminal branches, the musculophrenic artery and the superior epigastric artery.

3 Branches

4 Clinic

The internal thoracic artery is often used as an autologous vascular graft e.g. in the case of a coronary bypass. The abbreviations IMA (internal mammary artery), RIMA (right internal mammary artery), and LIMA (left internal mammary artery) are commonly used in clinical parlance.

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