Brachiocephalic trunk

Last revised by Dr Calum Worsley on 15 Jun 2021

The brachiocephalic trunk (BCT) (also known as the brachiocephalic artery, and previously as the innominate artery) is the first branch of the aortic arch and supplies the head, neck and right arm.

Although sometimes described as such, the brachiocephalic trunk is not one of the great vessels.

The brachiocephalic trunk is the first and rightmost of the three main branches of the aortic arch. It measures 4-5 cm in length with a diameter of 12.1 ± 1.6 mm. 

After arising in the midline, it courses upwards to the right, crossing the trachea and bifurcates posterior to the right sternoclavicular joint, into the right subclavian and right common carotid arteries. It has no other branches. 

See also variant anatomy of the aortic arch for a more general discussion of such variants.

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: Aortic arch normal anatomy (illustration)
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  • Case 1a: labeled 25
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  • Case 1b: labeled 42
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  • Case 1c: labeled 39
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  • Figure 2: mediastinum (Gray's illustration)
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