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Open Access Case Report

A rare variant of the ulnar artery with important clinical implications: a case report

Diogo Casal12*, Diogo Pais3, Tiago Toscano4, Tiago Bilhim5, Luís Rodrigues3, Inês Figueiredo3, Sónia Aradio3, Maria Angélica-Almeida6 and João Goyri-O’Neill3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medical Sciences, New University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal

2 Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, São José Hospital, Lisbon 1150-199, Portugal

3 Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medical Sciences, New University of Lisbon, Campo dos Mártires da Pátria, 30, 1169-056, Lisbon, Portugal

4 Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Santa Maria Hospital, Avenida Professor Egas Moniz, 1649-035, Lisbon, Portugal

5 Faculty of Medical Sciences, New University of Lisbon, Campo dos Mártires da Pátria, 30, 1169-056, Lisbon, Portugal

6 Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Department and Burn Unit, São José Hospital, Lisbon, 1150-199, Portugal

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:660  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-660

Published: 30 November 2012

Abstract

Background

Variations in the major arteries of the upper limb are estimated to be present in up to one fifth of people, and may have significant clinical implications.

Case presentation

During routine cadaveric dissection of a 69-year-old fresh female cadaver, a superficial brachioulnar artery with an aberrant path was found bilaterally. The superficial brachioulnar artery originated at midarm level from the brachial artery, pierced the brachial fascia immediately proximal to the elbow, crossed superficial to the muscles that originated from the medial epicondyle, and ran over the pronator teres muscle in a doubling of the antebrachial fascia. It then dipped into the forearm fascia, in the gap between the flexor carpi radialis and the palmaris longus. Subsequently, it ran deep to the palmaris longus muscle belly, and superficially to the flexor digitorum superficialis muscle, reaching the gap between the latter and the flexor carpi ulnaris muscle, where it assumed is usual position lateral to the ulnar nerve.

Conclusion

As far as the authors could determine, this variant of the superficial brachioulnar artery has only been described twice before in the literature. The existence of such a variant is of particular clinical significance, as these arteries are more susceptible to trauma, and can be easily confused with superficial veins during medical and surgical procedures, potentially leading to iatrogenic distal limb ischemia.

Keywords:
Blood supply; Anatomy; Surgery; Arteries; Arm; Forearm; Cadaver; Dissection