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BMC Ear Nose Throat Disord. 2004 Mar 30;4(1):1.

Tracheostomy reveals a rare aberrant right subclavian artery; a case report.

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Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, St Mary's Hospital, London W2 1NY, United Kingdom.



Anomalies of vascular anatomy in the neck are well recognised. We present a case of a very rare aberrant artery discovered during tracheostomy.


Elective tracheostomy was performed in theatre for an elderly gentleman on long-term ventilation. Pre-operative examination of the neck revealed no obvious abnormality. During surgery, a large vessel was revealed overlying the tracheal fourth ring. This was found to be an anomalous right subclavian artery. The procedure was completed without complication.


The vessel abnormality described has not been previously documented in this context. It illustrates the importance of thorough pre-operative assessment of the neck and a sound knowledge of the potential for vascular abnormalities. The increasing prevalence of percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy techniques makes this lesson increasingly relevant.

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