Anastomoses occur normally in the body in the circulatory system, serving as backup routes for blood to flow if one link is blocked or otherwise compromised. There are many examples of these in the body. However clinically important examples include:
- Circle of Willis (in the brain)
- scapular anastomosis (for the subclavian vessels)
- joint anastomoses - clinically very important. Almost all joints receive anastomotic blood supply from more than one source. Examples include knee (and geniculate arteries), shoulder (and circumflex humeral), hip (and circumflex iliac) and ankle. See also patellar network.
- pelvic anastomoses
- abdominal anastomoses
- hand and foot anastomoses (which include the palmar and plantar arches)
- Coronary: anterior and posterior interventricular arteries of the heart
Coronary anastomoses are a clinically vital subject: the coronary anastomosis is the blood supply to the heart. The coronary arteries are vulnerable to arteriosclerosis and other effects. Inadequate supply to the heart will lead to chest pains (angina) or a heart attack (myocardial infarction).
Coronary anastomoses are anatomically present though functionally obsolete. There was some suggestion that they may be helpful if a problem develops slowly over time (this will need to be verified) but in the case of the pathogenesis of CHD they do not provide a sufficient blood flow to prevent infarction.