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BACKGROUND: The anatomy of the radial artery draws great interests among anatomists for its frequent involvement in variations. Equally, these variations have gained significant attention from clinicians because of the preference to use the radial artery for catheterization. The commonest of radial artery variations involve its site of origin. In published literature, data on this variations exist, but the prevalence of such variations in a Kenyan population has hitherto been unknown.
METHODS: Sixty-two upper limbs from 50 formalin-fixed cadavers were studied during dissection in the Department of Human Anatomy, University of Nairobi.
RESULTS: Fifty-four (87.1%) radial arteries arose within the cubital fossa, while eight (12.9%) had a high origin. Out of the eight high arteries, two (3.2%) branched off from the axillary artery, another two (3.2%) were branches of the proximal third of the brachial artery and four (6.5%) arose from the middle third of the brachial artery. The high origin radial arteries were more common on the right upper limbs (5 out of the 8 cases). Both axillary and brachial origins were seen bilaterally.
CONCLUSION: The present study details important variations in the anatomy of the radial artery in a Kenyan population. With the radial artery being utilized during clinical, surgical and radiological interventions so frequently, an increased understanding and anticipation of such topographic variances is paramount.