Surgical and Radiologic Anatomy

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 465–470 | Cite as

Common trunk of the posterior intercostal arteries from the thoracic aorta: anatomical variation, frequency, and importance in individuals

  • Lidija Kocbek
  • Mateja Rakuša
Anatomic Variations



A common trunk of the posterior intercostal arteries originating from the descending thoracic aorta is normally an anatomical variation. A search through the literature disclosed the frequencies of common trunks variations among population, but no information relates to particular topic of simultaneous multiple common trunks of the PIA present in individuals.


A total of 396 intercostal spaces were dissected in 44 cadavers from the vertebral body to the mid-axillary line to observe a common trunk of the paired posterior intercostal artery at the level from T2 to T11 intercostal space.


In 31 cadavers (70%), a common trunk of posterior intercostal arteries arising from descending thoracic aorta was visualed and 22 of those (71%) had two or more common trunks simultaneously present.


It is important to recognize this anatomical variation when the number of origins of the posterior intercostal arteries from the thoracic aorta due to the multiple common trunk present can be reduced, as their origins and vascular territories are involved in primary diseases of the thoracic aorta, like atherosclerosis, aneurysm, or dissection that lead to serious complications. For example, in thoracoabdominal aneurysm repair, reimplantation of the posterior intercostal arteries is recommended to avoid potential ischemic injury to the supplying areas, especially to the spinal cord.


Posterior intercostal arteries, a common trunk Anatomic variation Thoracoabdominal aneurysm 



Authors thank o.Univ.-Prof. Dr.h.c. Friedrich Anderhuber and laboratory personnel of the Institute of Anatomy, Medical University of Graz, to provide the material and technical support for the study. Thanks and gratefulness goes to people who donated themselves for the scientific research.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical standards

The people donated their bodies for teaching and research purposes to the Institute of Anatomy, Medical University of Graz, Austria, between 2008 and 2010. A written consent according to the Institute’s regulations was acquired. The study protocol was approved by The National Medical Ethics Committee of the Republic of Slovenia (NMEC), University Institute of Clinical Neurophysiology, Medical Center Ljubljana, Slovenia and, therefore, performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Anatomy, Histology and Embryology, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of MariborMariborSlovenia

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