Vol 67, No 4 (2008)
Original article
Published online: 2008-09-30

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The morphology and clinical importance of the axillary arch

V.H. Bertone, N.E. Ottone, M. Lo Tartaro, N. García de Quirós, M. Dominguez, D. Gonzalez, P. López Bonardi, S. Florio, E. Lissandrello, E. Blasi, C. Medan
Folia Morphol 2008;67(4):261-266.


The axillary arch is the main variation of the axillary muscle. It was first described by Ramsay in 1795. In its classical form, it arises from the latissimus dorsi muscle and extends from this towards the pectoralis major, crossing the base of the axilla and creating a close relationship with the elements of the axillary neurovascular bundle. We describe the finding of 9 axillary arches, including one case of a bilateral arrangement. We develop a searching and finding technique for the axillary arch, essential for the safe and successful development of surgical procedures in the axillary region. Knowledge of this muscle variation and the possibility of finding it during axillary procedures is crucial for lymph node staging and lymphadenectomy and is also important for differential diagnosis in compressive pathologies of the axillary vessels and brachial plexus.

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