purpose: the subclavian arteries can vary on their origin, course or length. one of the most common anatomical variations is the right subclavian artery originating as the last branch of the aortic arch. this artery is known as a retroesophageal right subclavian artery or "lusory artery". the right retroesophageal subclavian artery usually is described as not producing symptoms, being most discoveries coincidental. nevertheless, it may be the site of formation of atherosclerotic plaque, inflammatory lesions or aneurysm. case report: the present study describes a case of right retroesophageal subclavian artery and discusses the findings according to their clinical and surgical implications. conclusion: the anatomic and morphologic variations of the aortic arch and its branches are significant for diagnostic and surgical procedures in the thorax and neck. if a right retroesophageal subclavian artery is diagnosed during aortic arch repair, corrective surgery should be considered. intensive care patients should be screened before long term placement of nasogastic tube, in order to avoid fistulization and fatal hemorrhage.