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The Relation Of The Principal Bloodvessels Of The Thorax And Abdomen To The Osseous Skeleton Etc

Sources: Surgical Anatomy

The arterial system of vessels assumes, in all cases, somewhat of the

character of the forms upon which they are distributed, or of the organs

which they supply. This mode of distribution becomes the more apparent,

according as we rise from particulars to take a view of the whole. With

the same ease that any piece of the osseous fabric, taken separately,

may be known, so may any one artery, taken apart from the rest, be

distinguished as to the place which it occupied, and the organs which it

supplied in the economy. The vascular skeleton, whether taken as a whole

or in parts, exhibits characteristics as apparent as are those of the

osseous skeleton itself. The main bloodvessel, A B C, of the trunk of

the body, possesses character, sui generis, just as the vertebral column

itself manifests. The main arteries of the head or limbs are as readily

distinguishable, the one from the other, as are the osseous fabrics of

the head and limbs. The visceral arteries are likewise moulded upon the

forms which they supply. But evidently the arterial system of vessels

conforms most strictly with the general design of the osseous skeleton.

In Plate 25, viewed as a whole, we find that as the vertebral column

stands central to the osseous skeleton, so does the aorta, A B C, take

the centre of the arterial skeleton. As the ribs jut symmetrically from

either side of the vertebral column, so do the intercostal arteries

follow them from their own points of origin in the aorta. The one side

of the osseous system is not more like the other than is the system of

vessels on one side like that of the other. And in addition to this fact

of a similarity of sides in the vascular as in the osseous skeleton, I

also remark that both extremities of the aorta divide into branches

which are similar to one another above and below, thereby conforming

exactly with the upper and lower limbs, which manifest unmistakable

points of analogy.

The branches which spring from the aortic arch above are destined to

supply the head and upper limbs. They are, H, the innominate artery, and

I K, the left common carotid and subclavian arteries. The branches which

spring from the other extremity of the aorta are disposed for the

support of the pelvis and lower limbs; they are the right and left

common iliac arteries, L M. These vessels exhibit, at both ends of the

main aortic trunk, a remarkable analogy; and as the knowledge of this

fact may serve to lighten the dry and weary detail of descriptive

anatomy, at the same time that it points directly to views of practical

import, I may be allowed briefly to remark upon it as follows:--

The vessels which spring from both ends of the aorta, as seen in Plate

25, are represented in what is called their normal character--that is,

while three vessels, H I K, spring separately from the aortic arch

above, only two vessels, L and M, arise from the aorta below. Let the

anatomist now recall to mind the "peculiarities" which at times appear

amongst the vessels, H I K, above, and he will find that some of them

absolutely correspond to the normal arrangement of the vessels, L M,

below. And if he will consider the "peculiarities" which occur to the

normal order of the vessels, L M, below, he will find that some of these

correspond exactly to the normal order of the vessels above. Thus, when

I K of the left side join into a common trunk, this resembles the

innominate artery, H, of the right side, and then both these vessels

perfectly correspond with the two common iliac arteries below. When, on

the other hand, L and M, the common iliac arteries, divide,

immediately after leaving the aortic trunk, into two pairs of branches,

they correspond to the abnormal condition of the vessels, H I K, above;

where H, immediately after leaving the aortic arch, divides into two

branches, like I K. With this generalization upon the normal and

abnormal facts of arrangement, exhibited among the vessels arising from

both ends of the aorta, I furnish to the reader the idea that the

vessels, H I K, above may present of the same figure as the vessels, L

M, below, and these latter may assume the character of H I K, above.

Whenever, therefore, either set of vessels becomes the subject of

operation, such as having a ligature applied to them, we must be

prepared to meet the "varieties."

The veins assume an arrangement similar to that of the arteries, and the

above remarks will therefore equally apply to the veins. In the same way

as the arteries, H I K, may present in the condition of two common or

brachio-cephalic trunks, and thereby simulate the condition of the

common iliac arteries, so we find that the normal forms of the veins

above and below actually and permanently exhibit this very type. The

brachio-cephalic veins, D B, Plate 26, exactly correspond to each

other, and to the common iliac veins, S T; and as these latter

correspond precisely with the common iliac arteries, so may we infer

that the original or typical condition of the vessels I K, Plate 25, is

a brachia-cephalic or common-trunk union corresponding with its

brachio-cephalic vein. When the vessels, I K, therefore present of the

brachio-cephalic form as the vessel H, we have a perfect correspondence

between the two extremes of the aorta, both as regards the arteries

arising from it, and the veins which accompany these arteries; and this

condition of the vascular skeleton I regard as the typical uniformity.

The separate condition of the vessels I K, notwithstanding the frequency

of the occurrence of such, may be considered as a special variation from

the original type.

The length of the aorta is variable in two or more bodies; and so,

likewise, is the length of the trunk of each of those great branches

which springs from its arch above, and of those into which it divides

below, The modes in which these variations as to length occur, are

numerous. The top of the arch of the aorta is described as being in

general on a level with the cartilages of the second ribs, from which

point it descends on the left side of the spinal column; and after

having wound gradually forwards to the forepart of the lumbar spine at

C, divides opposite to the fourth lumbar vertebra into the right and

left common iliac arteries. The length of that portion of the aorta

which is called thoracic, is determined by the position of the pillars

of the diaphragm F, which span the vessel; and from this point to where

the aorta divides into the two common iliac arteries, the main vessel is

named abdominal. The aorta, from its arch to its point of division on

the lumbar vertebrae, gradually diminishes in caliber, according to the

number and succession of the branches derived from it.

The varieties as to length exhibited by the aorta itself, and by the

principal branches which spring from it, occur under the following

mentioned conditions:--When the arch of the aorta rises above or sinks

below its ordinary position or level,--namely, the cartilages of the

second ribs, as seen in Plate 25,--it varies not only its own length,

but also that of the vessels H I K; for if the arch of the aorta rises

above this level, the vessels H I K become shortened; and as the arch

sinks below this level, these vessels become lengthened. Even when the

aortic arch holds its proper level in the thorax, still the vessels H I

K may vary as to length, according to the height to which they rise in

the neck previously to their division. When the aorta sinks below its

proper level at the same time that the vessels H I K rise considerably

above that point at which they usually arch or divide in the neck, then

of course their length becomes greatly increased. When, on the other

hand, the aortic arch rises above its usual level, whilst the vessels H

I K arch and divide at a low position in the neck, then their length

becomes very much diminished. The length of the artery H may be

increased even though the arch of the aorta holds its proper level, and

though the vessels H I K occupy their usual position in the neck; for it

is true that the vessel H may spring from a point of the aortic arch A

nearer to the origin of this from the ventricle of the heart, whilst the

vessel I may be shortened, owing to the fact of its arising from some

part of H, the innominate vessel. All these circumstances are so

obvious, that they need no comment, were it not for the necessity of

impressing the surgeon with the fact that uncertainty as to a successful

result must always attach to his operation of including in a ligature

either of the vessels H I K, so as to affect an aneurismal tumour.

Now whilst the length of the aorta and that of the principal branches

springing from its arch may be varied according to the above-mentioned

conditions, so may the length of the aorta itself, and of the two common

iliac vessels, vary according to the place whereat the aorta, C,

bifurcates. Or, even when this point of division is opposite the usual

vertebra,--viz., the fourth lumbar,--still the common iliac vessels may

be short or long, according to the place where they divide into external

and internal iliac branches. The aorta may bifurcate almost as high up

as where the pillars of the diaphragm overarch it, or as low down as the

fifth lumbar vertebra. The occasional existence of a sixth lumbar

vertebra also causes a variety in the length, not only of the aorta, but

of the two common iliac vessels and their branches.[Footnote]

[Footnote: Whatever may be the number of variations to which the

branches arising from both extremes of the aorta are liable, all

anatomists admit that the arrangement of these vessels, as exhibited in

Plate 25, is by far the most frequent. The surgical anatomist,

therefore, when planning his operation, takes this arrangement as the

standard type. Haller asserts this order of the vessels to be so

constant, that in four hundred bodies which he examined, he found only

one variety--namely, that in which the left vertebral artery arose from

the aorta. Of other varieties described by authors, he observes--"Rara

vero haec omnia esse si dixero cum quadringenta nunc cadavera humana

dissecuerim, fidem forte inveniam." (Iconum Anatom.) This variety is

also stated by J. F. Meckel (Handbuch der Mensch Anat.), Soemmerring (De

Corp. Hum Fabrica), Boyer (Tr. d'Anat.), and Mr. Harrison (Surg. Anal.

of Art.), to be the most frequent. Tiedemann figures this variety

amongst others (Tabulae Arteriarum). Mr. Quain regards as the most

frequent change which occurs in the number of the branches of the aortic

arch, "that in which the left carotid is derived from the innominate."

(Anatomy of the Arteries, &c.) A case is recorded by Petsche (quoted in

Haller), in which he states the bifurcation of the aorta to have taken

place at the origin of the renal arteries: (query) are we to suppose

that the renal arteries occupied their usual position? Cruveilhier

records a case (Anal. Descript.) in which the right common iliac was

wanting, in consequence of having divided at the aorta into the internal

and external iliac branches. Whether the knowledge of these and numerous

other varieties of the arterial system be of much practical import to

the surgeon, he will determine for himself. To the scientific anatomist,

it must appear that the main object in regard to them is to submit them

to a strict analogical reasoning, so as to demonstrate the operation of

that law which has produced them. To this end I have pointed to that

analogy which exists between the vessels arising from both extremities

of the aorta. "Itaque convertenda plane est opera ad inquirendas et

notandas rerum similitudines et analoga tam integralibus quam partibus;

illae enim sunt, quae naturam uniunt, et constituere scientias

incipiunt." "Natura enim non nisi parendo vincitur; et quod in

contemplatione instar causae est; id in operatione instar regulae est."

(Novum Organum Scientiarum, Aph. xxvii-iii, lib. i.)]

The difference between the perpendicular range of the anterior and

posterior walls of the thoracic cavity may be estimated on a reference

to Plate 25, in which the xyphoid cartilage, E, joined to the seventh

pair of ribs, bounds its anterior wall below, while F, the pillars of

the diaphragm, bound its posterior wall. The thoracic cavity is

therefore considerably deeper in its posterior than in its anterior

wall; and this occasions a difference of an opposite kind in the

anterior and posterior walls of the abdomen; for while the abdomen

ranges perpendicularly from E to W, its posterior range measures only

from F to the ventra of the iliac bones, R. The arching form of the

diaphragm, and the lower level which the pubic symphysis occupies

compared with that of the cristae of the iliac bones, occasion this

difference in the measure of both the thorax and abdomen.

The usual position of the kidneys, G G*, is on either side of the lumbar

spine, between the last ribs and the cristae of the iliac bones. The

kidneys lie on the fore part of the quadratus lumborum and psoae

muscles. They are sometimes found to have descended as low as the iliac

fossae, R, in consequence of pressure, occasioned by an enlarged liver

on the right, or by an enlarged spleen on the left. The length of the

abdominal part of the aorta may be estimated as being a third of the

entire vessel, measured from the top of its arch to its point of

bifurcation. So many and such large vessels arise from the abdominal

part of the aorta, and these are set so closely to each other, that it

must in all cases be very difficult to choose a proper locality whereat

to apply a ligature on this region of the vessel. If other circumstances

could fairly justify such an operation, the anatomist believes that the

circulation might be maintained through the anastomosis of the internal

mammary and intercostal arteries with the epigastric; the branches of

the superior mesenteric with those of the inferior; and the branches of

this latter with the perineal branches of the pubic. The lumbar, the

gluteal, and the circumflex ilii arteries, also communicate around the

hip-bone. The same vessels would serve to carryon the circulation if

either L, the common iliac, V, the external iliac, or the internal iliac

vessel, were the subject of the operation by ligature.


A. The arch of the aorta.

B B. The descending thoracic part of the aorta, giving off b b, the

intercostal arteries.

C. The abdominal part of the aorta.

D D. First pair of ribs.

E. The xyphoid cartilage.

G G*. The right and left kidneys.

H. The brachio-cephalic artery.

I. Left common carotid artery.

K. Left subclavian artery.

L. Right common iliac artery at its place of division.

M. Left common iliac artery, seen through the meso-rectum.

N. Inferior vena cava.

O O. The sigmoid flexure of the colon.

P. The rectum.

Q. The urinary bladder.

R. The right iliac fossa.

S S. The right and left ureters.

T. The left common iliac vein, joining the right under the right common

iliac artery to form the inferior vena cava.

U. Fifth lumbar vertebra.

V. The external iliac artery of right side.

W. The symphysis pubis.

X. An incision made over the locality of the femoral artery.

b b. The dorsal intercostal arteries.

c. The coeliac axis

d. The superior mesenteric artery.

f f. The renal arteries.

g. The inferior mesenteric artery.

h. The vas deferens bending over the epigastric artery and the os pubis,

after having passed through the internal abdominal ring.

Chest and abdomen, showing bones, blood vessels, muscles<br />
<br />
and other internal organs