Anatomy of the axilla

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Anatomy of the axilla



Introduction to the skeletal system

Introduction to the muscular system


Bones of the neck

Anatomy clinical correlates: Bones, fascia and muscles of the neck


Bones of the vertebral column

Joints of the vertebral column

Vessels and nerves of the vertebral column

Muscles of the back

Anatomy of the suboccipital region

Anatomy clinical correlates: Bones, joints and muscles of the back


Anatomy of the muscles and nerves of the posterior abdominal wall

Upper limb

Bones of the upper limb

Fascia, vessels and nerves of the upper limb

Anatomy of the brachial plexus

Anatomy of the pectoral and scapular regions

Anatomy of the arm

Muscles of the forearm

Vessels and nerves of the forearm

Muscles of the hand

Anatomy of the sternoclavicular and acromioclavicular joints

Anatomy of the glenohumeral joint

Anatomy of the elbow joint

Anatomy of the radioulnar joints

Joints of the wrist and hand

Anatomy of the axilla

Anatomy clinical correlates: Clavicle and shoulder

Anatomy clinical correlates: Axilla

Anatomy clinical correlates: Arm, elbow and forearm

Anatomy clinical correlates: Wrist and hand

Anatomy clinical correlates: Median, ulnar and radial nerves

Lower limb

Bones of the lower limb

Fascia, vessels, and nerves of the lower limb

Anatomy of the anterior and medial thigh

Muscles of the gluteal region and posterior thigh

Vessels and nerves of the gluteal region and posterior thigh

Anatomy of the popliteal fossa

Anatomy of the leg

Anatomy of the foot

Anatomy of the hip joint

Anatomy of the knee joint

Anatomy of the tibiofibular joints

Joints of the ankle and foot

Anatomy clinical correlates: Hip, gluteal region and thigh

Anatomy clinical correlates: Knee

Anatomy clinical correlates: Leg and ankle

Anatomy clinical correlates: Foot


Anatomy of the axilla

Recall questions

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I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t the axilla just a fancy name for the armpit?! Well, besides the axilla being notoriously ticklish, it’s also where many important neurovascular structures enter and exit to reach their target locations.

Think of it like a train station, with many trains passing through enroute to delivering electrochemical signals, blood, and lymphatics to their appropriate destinations.

Now, let’s start with the boundaries of the axilla. The axilla is located at the junction of the arm and thorax, and connects superiorly to the neck, anteriorly to the pectoral region, inferolaterally to the upper limb, and inferomedially to the thoracic wall.

The axilla is shaped like a pyramid that has an apex, a base, and four walls. The apex of the axilla is also called the cervico-axillary canal, which is the door between the neck and the axilla.

The cervico-axillary canal is bounded by the first rib, clavicle, and superior edge of the scapula. The base of the axilla is formed by skin, subcutaneous tissue, and axillary fascia, and forms what is called the axillary fossa, or what we know as the armpit.

Moving on to the four walls of the axilla, the anterior wall is made up by two muscles: the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor.

The inferior-most aspect of the anterior wall is called the anterior axillary fold, and it’s formed by the pectoralis major.

The posterior wall of the axillary is formed mainly by the scapula and overlying subscapularis muscle.

The inferior aspect of the posterior wall is formed by the teres major and latissimus dorsi muscles, inferiorly forming the posterior axillary fold. The medial wall is formed by serratus anterior muscle that overlies the 1st-4th ribs and intercostal muscles. Finally, the lateral wall is a bony wall formed by the intertubercular sulcus of the humerus.


  1. "Human Anatomy & Physiology" Pearson (2017)
  2. "Principles of Anatomy and Physiology" Wiley (2019)
  3. "Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy" LWW (2022)
  4. "Grant's Dissector" LWW (2020)
  5. "Netter Atlas of anatomy 17th ed" Elsevier (2022)
  6. "Neurovascular Compression Syndromes of the Shoulder" The Athlete's Shoulder (2009)
  7. "Axillary management for young women with breast cancer varies between patients electing breast-conservation therapy or mastectomy" Breast Cancer Research and Treatment (2020)
  8. "The axillary vein and its tributaries are not in the mirror image of the axillary artery and its branches" PLOS ONE (2019)

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