Intercostal artery

Medically reviewed by Healthline Medical Team

The intercostal artery refers to the set of blood vessels that direct blood flow to an area within the ribs known as the intercostal space. The intercostal artery is divided into three groups of smaller blood vessels. Two of the groups originate from the front, and the other group is found near the back. The intercostal space is the opening formed between two ribs. There are a total of 11 spaces, with corresponding arteries for each one. The first two intercostal spaces are supplied with blood by the posterior intercostal artery. These arteries are also referred to as the highest intercostal artery and originate from the costocervical trunk in the chest. The thoracic aorta produces the arteries that direct blood flow to the nine remaining intercostal spaces. The anterior (rear) intercostal arteries are extensions of the thoracic artery and the musculophrenic artery. These arteries direct blood flow to the skin and muscles of the intercostal spaces. The intercostal artery may sustain damage during surgery, such as lacerations, which would then require surgical repair; however, this is not life threatening.

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