Noncoronary Collateral Myocardial Blood Flow: The Human Heart’s Forgotten Blood Supply

Marco Picichè, * Open Modal Authors Info & Affiliations
The Open Cardiovascular Medicine Journal 29 December 2015 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1874192401509010105


The “noncoronary collateral circulation” (NCCC) or “noncoronary collateral myocardial blood flow” (NCCMBF), reaches the heart through a micro-vascular network arising from the bronchial, esophageal, pericardial, diaphragmatic, and aortic arteries. The left and right internal thoracic arteries (ITAs) along with their collateral branches also serve as a source of NCCMBF-a feature seen in other mammals. Under certain circumstances the ITAs have a high potential for developing collateral branches. In the case of severe Leriche syndrome or with chronic obstruction of the abdominal aorta, the ITAs can serve as the main or even sole source of blood supply to the lower limbs. It is also possible for the ITAs to develop angiographically visible branches that directly connect with the coronary arteries. In ischemic conditions there is a functional, ischemia-reducing extracardiac coronary artery supply via natural ipsilateral ITA anastomosis. To date we know little about NCCMBF and its potential benefits in clinical applications, which makes this a challenging and intriguing field of research. This paper reviews all available data on noncoronary collateral blood supply to the human heart.

Keywords: Collateral circulation, Noncoronary collateral blood flow, Internal thoracic artery, Ischemic heart disease, Myocardial revascularization, No-options patients.
Fulltext HTML PDF