Thoracodorsal nerve

Last updated
Thoracodorsal nerve
Plan of brachial plexus. (Label for thoracodorsal nerve at bottom center.)
Latissimus dorsi.png
Latissimus dorsi
From posterior cord (C6-C8)
Innervates Latissimus dorsi muscle
Latin nervus thoracodorsalis
TA A14.2.03.016
FMA 65290
Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy

The thoracodorsal nerve is a nerve present in humans and other animals, also known as the middle subscapular nerve or the long subscapular nerve. It supplies the latissimus dorsi muscle.

Nerve enclosed, cable-like bundle of axons in the peripheral nervous system

A nerve is an enclosed, cable-like bundle of nerve fibres called axons, in the peripheral nervous system. A nerve provides a common pathway for the electrochemical nerve impulses called action potentials that are transmitted along each of the axons to peripheral organs or, in the case of sensory nerves, from the periphery back to the central nervous system. Each axon within the nerve is an extension of an individual neuron, along with other supportive cells such as Schwann cells that coat the axons in myelin.


It arises from the brachial plexus. It derives its fibers from the sixth, seventh, and eighth cervical nerves. It is derived from their ventral rami, in spite of the fact that the latissimus dorsi is found in the back. The thoracodorsal nerve is a branch of the posterior cord of the brachial plexus, and is made up of fibres from the posterior divisions of all three trunks of the brachial plexus.

Brachial plexus network of nerves formed by the ventral rami of the lower four cervical nerves and first thoracic nerve

The brachial plexus is a network of nerves formed by the ventral rami of the lower four cervical nerves and first thoracic nerve. This plexus extends from the spinal cord, through the cervicoaxillary canal in the neck, over the first rib, and into the armpit. It supplies afferent and efferent nerve fibers to the chest, shoulder, arm and hand.

Posterior cord

The posterior cord is a part of the brachial plexus. It consists of contributions from all of the roots of the brachial plexus.

It follows the course of the subscapular artery, along the posterior wall of the axilla to the Latissimus dorsi, in which it may be traced as far as the lower border of the muscle. It supplies latissimus dorsi on its deep surface.

Subscapular artery Large blood vessel

The subscapular artery, the largest branch of the axillary artery, arises from the third part of the axillary artery at the lower border of the subscapularis muscle, which it follows to the inferior angle of the scapula, where it anastomoses with the lateral thoracic and intercostal arteries, and with the descending branch of the dorsal scapular artery, and ends in the neighboring muscles.

Axilla area of human body beneath joint between arm and torso

The axilla is the area on the human body directly under the joint where the arm connects to the shoulder. It also provides the under-arm sweat gland.

The latissimus dorsi is occasionally used for transplantation, and for augmentation of systole in cardiac failure. In these cases, the nerve supply is preserved.

Additional images

Related Research Articles

Latissimus dorsi muscle Large, flat back muscle

The latissimus dorsi is a large, flat muscle on the back that stretches to the sides, behind the arm, and is partly covered by the trapezius on the back near the midline. The word latissimus dorsi comes from Latin and means "broadest [muscle] of the back", from "latissimus" ' and "dorsum". The pair of muscles are commonly known as "lats", especially among bodybuilders. The latissimus dorsi is the largest muscle in the upper body.

Spinal nerve nerve that carries signals between the spinal chord and the body

A spinal nerve is a mixed nerve, which carries motor, sensory, and autonomic signals between the spinal cord and the body. In the human body there are 31 pairs of spinal nerves, one on each side of the vertebral column. These are grouped into the corresponding cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral and coccygeal regions of the spine. There are eight pairs of cervical nerves, twelve pairs of thoracic nerves, five pairs of lumbar nerves, five pairs of sacral nerves, and one pair of coccygeal nerves. The spinal nerves are part of the peripheral nervous system.

Axillary nerve

The axillary nerve or the circumflex nerve is a nerve of the human body, that originates from the brachial plexus at the level of the axilla (armpit) and carries nerve fibers from C5 and C6. The axillary nerve travels through the quadrangular space with the posterior circumflex humeral artery and vein.

Ulnar nerve nerve which runs near the ulna bone

In human anatomy, the ulnar nerve is a nerve that runs near the ulna bone. The ulnar collateral ligament of elbow joint is in relation with the ulnar nerve. The nerve is the largest unprotected nerve in the human body, so injury is common. This nerve is directly connected to the little finger, and the adjacent half of the ring finger, innervating the palmar aspect of these fingers, including both front and back of the tips, perhaps as far back as the fingernail beds.

Phrenic nerve

The phrenic nerve is a nerve that originates in the neck (C3-C5) and passes down between the lung and heart to reach the diaphragm. It is important for breathing, as it passes motor information to the diaphragm and receives sensory information from it. There are two phrenic nerves, a left and a right one.

Long thoracic nerve Large nerve

The long thoracic nerve supplies the serratus anterior muscle. This nerve characteristically arises from the anterior rami of three spinal nerve roots: the fifth, sixth, and seventh cervical nerves (C5-C7) although the root from C7 may be absent. The roots from C5 and C6 pierce through the scalenus medius, while the C7 root passes in front of the muscle.

Upper limb arm (hand + forearm + upper arm + shoulder)

The upper limb or upper extremity is the region in a vertebrate animal extending from the deltoid region up to and including the hand, including the arm, axilla and shoulder.

Axillary artery Large blood vessel bringing oxygenated blood to the thorax

In human anatomy, the axillary artery is a large blood vessel that conveys oxygenated blood to the lateral aspect of the thorax, the axilla (armpit) and the upper limb. Its origin is at the lateral margin of the first rib, before which it is called the subclavian artery.

Shoulder joint

The shoulder joint is structurally classified as a synovial ball and socket joint and functionally as a diarthrosis and multiaxial joint. It involves articulation between the glenoid cavity of the scapula and the head of the humerus.

Teres major muscle muscle of the upper limb

The teres major muscle is a muscle of the upper limb. It attaches to the scapula and the humerus and is one of the seven scapulohumeral muscles. It is a thick but somewhat flattened muscle.

Sacral plexus

In human anatomy, the sacral plexus is a nerve plexus which provides motor and sensory nerves for the posterior thigh, most of the lower leg and foot, and part of the pelvis. It is part of the lumbosacral plexus and emerges from the lumbar vertebrae and sacral vertebrae (L4-S4). A sacral plexopathy is a disorder affecting the nerves of the sacral plexus, usually caused by trauma, nerve compression, vascular disease, or infection. Symptoms may include pain, loss of motor control, and sensory deficits.

Intercostal nerves

The intercostal nerves are part of the somatic nervous system, and arise from the anterior rami of the thoracic spinal nerves from T1 to T11. The intercostal nerves are distributed chiefly to the thoracic pleura and abdominal peritoneum and differ from the anterior rami of the other spinal nerves in that each pursues an independent course without plexus formation.

Medial cutaneous nerve of forearm

The medial antebrachial cutaneous nerve arises from the medial cord of the brachial plexus.

Lower subscapular nerve

The lower subscapular nerve is a nerve that supplies the lower part of the subscapularis muscle, and also supplies the teres major muscle.

Upper subscapular nerve

The upper subscapular enters the upper part of the Subscapularis muscle, and is frequently represented by two branches. It is derived from C5, C6 nerve fibers, and branches from the posterior cord of the brachial plexus. It innervates the superior portion of the subscapularis muscle.

Subscapular nerves Wikimedia disambiguation page

Subscapular nerves can refer to:

Thoracodorsal artery Large blood vessel

The thoracodorsal artery is a branch of the subscapular artery. It travels inferiorly with the thoracodorsal nerve and supplies the latissimus dorsi.


This article incorporates text in the public domain from page 934 of the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)

The public domain consists of all the creative works to which no exclusive intellectual property rights apply. Those rights may have expired, been forfeited, expressly waived, or may be inapplicable.

<i>Grays Anatomy</i> English-language textbook of human anatomy

Gray's Anatomy is an English language textbook of human anatomy originally written by Henry Gray and illustrated by Henry Vandyke Carter. Earlier editions were called Anatomy: Descriptive and Surgical and Gray's Anatomy: Descriptive and Applied, but the book's name is commonly shortened to, and later editions are titled, Gray's Anatomy. The book is widely regarded as an extremely influential work on the subject, and has continued to be revised and republished from its initial publication in 1858 to the present day. The latest edition of the book, the 41st, was published in September 2015.