Where is the brachial artery most vulnerable?  

    The human body comprises several body functions. These functions work properly in allowing the human body to live and adapt to survive no matter what the environment might be. One of the most fascinating parts of the body system is the blood circulatory system. Do you know that all of the blood vessels of a human body can measure up to more than 100 000 kilometres in total and in about 5.6 litres of blood circulate the body three times for every minute? In this DoctorOnCall’s article, we will be talking more about one of the blood vessels, specifically the brachial artery.

       Brachial artery is the large blood vessel supplying the upper arm, elbow, forearm and hand. This artery is the continuation of the axillary artery (the blood vessel located around the first rib, armpit and shoulder). Brachial artery ends at the neck of the radius close to the cubital fossa (an area of transition between the anatomical arm and the forearm). Then, it divides into the ulnar and radial arteries. The forearm is innervated by this nerve.

       The brachial artery contains numerous branches. These branches enable the oxygenated blood to flow into the various parts of the upper limb. From the top, the first branch is the deep brachial artery. This main branch supplies blood to the part of the humerus bone, rounded shape muscle of the shoulder called deltoid and the triceps muscles. This branch supplies blood to the triceps and part of the elbow. The third branch is the inferior ulnar collateral artery. This branch supplies the biceps and brachialis muscle.

       No matter how strong a structure is, there must be some weakness or spot that is vulnerable. In this case of brachial artery, the most vulnerable part at the end and back of the elbow that easily get entrapped when there is dislocation or fracture of the elbow, specifically the end of the humerus bone close to the tendons of bicep muscle in the cubital fossa. Generally, brachial arteries are prone to damage such as from traumatic injuries as it is near to the surface of the skin.

       Beside fascination of the brachial artery, the importance of the structure has been studied in many clinical settings. One of the most prominent findings is the fact that this artery is able to give readings on blood pressure. The simple principle of measuring the blood pressure by manipulating the brachial artery through usage of the sphygmomanometer and stethoscope. In newer and automated sphygmomanometers, a stethoscope may not be required.

       The brachial artery is an important access point for numerous radiology procedures. This includes cardiac catheterization, a procedure of insertion of catheter tube into the brachial artery as the entry point for an imaging guidance for the heart. This minimally invasive technique has been also used to help treat blood clots, aneurysm or narrowed arteries. It makes open-heart surgery less preferable for such cases as this type of major surgery is riskier and comes with many possible complications. The brachial artery may also be the alternate site for placement of the arterial pressure monitoring catheter to measure blood pressure more accurately and consistent than the typical blood pressure cuff. Brachial artery catheters provide more precise reading of the central aortic arterial pressure compared to their radial part.

       In essence, brachial arteries play a significant role in the human body, especially the upper limb part. Beside its function in the blood circulatory system, understanding of these tiny structures helps healthcare professionals to provide concise diagnosis and treatment in diseases relating to the blood vessels and the heart. Also read – Dengue Prevention.