Document Type


Publication Title

Folia Morphologica


Background: Thoracentesis and video-assisted thoracic surgery procedures can result in haemorrhage as a consequence of severing the collateral branches of the posterior intercostal artery. These branches have been shown to be most common in the 5th intercostal space (ICS). Tortuosity has been shown to be especially prevalent nearer to midline. A group of investigators have recommended the 4th and 7th ICS, 120 mm lateral to midline as a safe zone, least likely to hit branches when cutting into the ICS. The present study aimed to investigate that safe zone as a better entry points for procedures. In addition, investigation of the least safe 5th ICS was also performed.

Materials and methods: A total of 56 embalmed human cadavers were selected for the study. With the cadavers laid prone, 2 cm incisions were made at the 4th, 5th and 7th ICS, 120 mm lateral to midline bilaterally. The cadavers were then placed supine and the incisions were dissected. Careful attention was paid to identify if any collateral branches were cut.

Results: After thorough dissection of the 4th, 5th and 7th ICS incision sites, it was shown that damage to the 5th intercostal was seen most frequently.

Conclusions: Based on this cadaveric study, a 2 cm incision at the 4th, 5th and 7th ICS 120 mm lateral from midline resulted in the most damage at the level of the 5th ICS. The 4th ICS had the least damage seen. Therefore, it is recommended that insertion should be placed at the level of the 4th ICS bilaterally.



Publication Date



intercostal anatomy, posterior intercostal artery, thoracic surgery, thoroscopy