The Aorta and Its Branches


(Depending on size)

  • The largest artery in the body, the aorta leaves the left ventricle and supplies all of the body’s tissues, including the heart itself, via its branches.
  • The major parts are the arch (from the aortic valve to the left subclavian artery), descending thoracic aorta (from the left subclavian to the diaphragm) and abdominal aorta (from the diaphragm to the iliac bifurcation at about the level of the umbilicus).
  • There are three major vessels leaving the arch and these supply the head, neck and arms; there are segmental vessels supplying the body wall throughout the length of the aorta. Major branches supply abdominal structures; the iliac arteries and their branches supply the pelvis and legs.