Lateral thoracic artery
The lateral thoracic artery also goes by the name of the external mammary artery. It distributes oxygenated blood to lateral components of the breast and upper thorax. Branching from the axillary artery, the lateral thoracic follows the pectoralis minor's lower border. At the side of the chest, it services the serratus anterior muscle. Along the same course, the similarly named lateral thoracic vein runs. While the artery delivers oxygenated blood, the vein drains away that blood once it becomes deoxygenated. From there, the blood flows into the axillary vein, and eventually, it ends up back at the lungs and heart. From there, new oxygen is introduced into the blood stream before it recirculated. According to gender, there is a slight anatomical variation with the lateral thoracic artery and surrounding blood vessels. Females require a slightly different flow and volume of blood within their chests. After all, females possess a much more intricate system of body tissue around their breasts and mammary glands. In men, the region of the chest is mostly muscle tissue.
Written and medically reviewed by the Healthline Editorial Team
In Depth: Lateral thoracic artery