Abdominal aorta

Abdominal aorta and its branchesAnatomical features of the abdominal aorta and its major branches
~ 4 min

The aorta (aorta) is the largest vessel in the human body. It gives rise to all the arteries of the systemic circulation.

Aorta (aorta)
Aorta (aorta)
Aorta (aorta)
Aorta (aorta)

It has the following parts:

The ascending part (pars ascendens aortae)

Ascending part (pars ascendens aortae)
Ascending part (pars ascendens aortae)
Ascending part (pars ascendens aortae)
Ascending part (pars ascendens aortae)

Arch of the aorta (arcus aortae)

Arch of the aorta (arcus aortae)
Arch of the aorta (arcus aortae)
Arch of the aorta (arcus aortae)
Arch of the aorta (arcus aortae)

The descending part (pars descendens aortae)

Descending part (pars descendens aortae)
Descending part (pars descendens aortae)
Descending part (pars descendens aortae)
Descending part (pars descendens aortae)

The aorta arises from the left ventricle (ventriculus sinister). It is located to the left of the middle line of the body and arises from the left ventricle at the level of the third intercostal space.

Left ventricle (ventriculus sinister)
Left ventricle (ventriculus sinister)

The descending aorta (pars descendens aortae) is the longest segment of the aorta, which divides into two parts:

Descending aorta (pars descendens aortae)
Descending aorta (pars descendens aortae)
Descending aorta (pars descendens aortae)
Descending aorta (pars descendens aortae)

The thoracic part (pars thoracica aortae)

Thoracic part (pars thoracica aortae)
Thoracic part (pars thoracica aortae)

The abdominal aorta (pars abdominalis aortae)

Abdominal aorta (pars abdominalis aortae)
Abdominal aorta (pars abdominalis aortae)

It is located between the fourth thoracic spine and the fourth lumbar spine, at the level of which it divides into the right and left common iliac arteries (aortic bifurcation):

The left common iliac artery (a. iliaca communis sinistra)

left common iliac artery (a. iliaca communis sinistra)
left common iliac artery (a. iliaca communis sinistra)

The right common iliac artery (a. iliaca communis dextra)

Right common iliac artery (a. iliaca communis dextra)
Right common iliac artery (a. iliaca communis dextra)

These arteries supply the lower limbs and pelvic organs with blood.

The abdominal aorta (pars abdominalis aortae) lies retroperitoneally on the anterior surface of the bodies of the lumbar vertebrae, to the left of the median line. To the right of the aorta, there is the inferior vena cava. Anteriorly to the aorta, there is the pancreas, the lower horizontal part of the duodenum, and the root of the mesentery.

Abdominal aorta (pars abdominalis aortae)
Abdominal aorta (pars abdominalis aortae)

Inferiorly, the abdominal aorta shifts gradually in the medial direction. At the level of the fourthlumbar vertebra, there is an aortic bifurcation (bifurcatio aortae).

Aortic bifurcation (bifurcatio aortae)
Aortic bifurcation (bifurcatio aortae)

The aorta continues along the middle line into the median sacral artery (a. sacralis mediana).

Median sacral artery (a. sacralis mediana))
Median sacral artery (a. sacralis mediana))

The branches arising on the abdominal aorta are divided into parietal and visceral.

The parietal branches

The inferior phrenic artery (a. phrenica inferior) is paired artery, which arises from the anterior semicircle of the aorta, at the level of the twelfth thoracic vertebra. It passes to the inferior surface of the diaphragm of its side.

Inferior phrenic artery (a. phrenica inferior dextra)
Inferior phrenic artery (a. phrenica inferior dextra)
Inferior phrenic artery (a. phrenica inferior sinstra)
Inferior phrenic artery (a. phrenica inferior sinstra)

In turn, it also gives off a number of branches:

The descending branch (r. descendens) supplies the muscular part of the diaphragm with blood and ends with anastomosis with the posterior intercostal and musculophrenic arteries.

The ascending branch (r. ascendens) supplies the diaphragm with blood and anastomoses with branches of the superior mesenteric artery.

The superior suprarenal arteries (aa. suprarenales superiores) are thin arteries heading down to the adrenal gland in the amount from 1 to 24.

Superior suprarenal arteries (aa. suprarenales superiores)
Superior suprarenal arteries (aa. suprarenales superiores)

There are four pairs of lumbar arteries (aa. lumbales), which arise from the posterior lateral semicircle of the aorta at the level of the bodies of the lumbar vertebrae one to four. They pass into the thickness of the posterior abdominal wall near the bodies of the corresponding lumbar vertebrae, and pass in the anterior direction between the transverse and internal oblique muscles of the abdomen.

Lumbar arteries (aa. lumbales)
Lumbar arteries (aa. lumbales)

They have a number of branches:

The medial branch (r. medialis) supplies the lumbar segments of the spinal cord and regional nerve ganglia with blood.

The median branch (r. medianus) supplies the deep muscles of the back, the joints of the spine, and the skin of the back with blood.

The lateral branch (r. lateralis) supplies the muscles of the anterior abdominal wall, the large lumbar muscle, the square muscle, and the transverse abdominal muscle with blood.

Let’s consider the visceral branches

They divide into paired and unpaired branches.

Paired branches

The middle superarenal artery (a. suprarenalis media) arises at the level of the 1st lumbar vertebra and goes to the hilum of the adrenal gland.

Middle superarenal artery (a. suprarenalis media)
Middle superarenal artery (a. suprarenalis media)

It anastomoses with the superior adrenal arteries (aa. suprarenales superiores) and with the inferior adrenal artery (a. suprarenalis inferior).

Superior adrenal arteries (aa. suprarenales superiores)
Superior adrenal arteries (aa. suprarenales superiores)
Inferior adrenal artery (a. suprarenalis inferior)
Inferior adrenal artery (a. suprarenalis inferior)

The renal artery (a. renalis) arises at the level of the first and second lumbar vertebra, slightly below the middle suprarenal artery (a. suprarenalis media). It goes in the transverse direction to the kidney hilum.

Renal artery (a. renalis)
Renal artery (a. renalis)
Renal artery (a. renalis sinstra)
Renal artery (a. renalis sinstra)

It has the following branches:

The anterior branch of the renal artery (r. anterior arteriae renalis) arises from the renal artery in the area of the hilum and gives off segmental arteries to the anterior renal segments.

Anterior branch of the renal artery (r. anterior arteriae renalis)
Anterior branch of the renal artery (r. anterior arteriae renalis)
  • The superior segmental artery (a. segmenti superioris renis) supplies the superior segment of the kidney with blood
  • Superior segmental artery (a. segmenti superioris renis)
    Superior segmental artery (a. segmenti superioris renis)
  • The anterior superior segmental artery (a. segmenti anterioris superioris renis) supplies blood the anterior superior segment of the kidney with blood
  • Anterior superior segmental artery (a. segmenti anterioris superioris renis)
    Anterior superior segmental artery (a. segmenti anterioris superioris renis)
  • The anterior inferior segmental artery (a. segmenti anterioris inferioris renis) supplies the anterior inferior segment of the kidney with blood
  • Anterior inferior segmental artery (a. segmenti anterioris inferioris renis)
    Anterior inferior segmental artery (a. segmenti anterioris inferioris renis)
  • The inferior segmental artery (a. segmenti inferioris renis) supplies the inferior segment of the kidney with blood
  • Inferior segmental artery (a. segmenti inferioris renis)
    Inferior segmental artery (a. segmenti inferioris renis)

The posterior branch of the renal artery (r. posterior arteriae renalis) arises from the renal artery in the area of the hilum and supplies the posterior segment of the kidney with blood.

Posterior branch of the renal artery (r. posterior arteriae renalis)
Posterior branch of the renal artery (r. posterior arteriae renalis)

The posterior segmental artery (a. segmenti posterioris renis) supplies the posterior segment of the kidney with blood

Posterior segmental artery (a. segmenti posterioris renis)
Posterior segmental artery (a. segmenti posterioris renis)

Segmental arteries continue into interlobular arteries (aa. interlobares renis), which in turn pass into arcuate arteries (aa. arcuatae renis) and end with interlobular arteries (aa. interlobulares renis).

Interlobular arteries (aa. interlobares renis)
Interlobular arteries (aa. interlobares renis)
Arcuate arteries (aa. arcuatae renis)
Arcuate arteries (aa. arcuatae renis)

The inferior suprarenal artery (a. suprarenalis inferior) supplies the adrenal glands with blood, and anastomoses with the middle suprarenal artery (a. suprarenalis media)

Inferior suprarenal artery (a. suprarenalis inferior)
Inferior suprarenal artery (a. suprarenalis inferior)

The ureteric branches (rr. uretericae) run to the ureter and supply it with blood.

Ureteric branches (rr. uretericae)
Ureteric branches (rr. uretericae)

Next, let’s consider the gonadal arteries.

The testicular artery (a. testicularis) – arises from the anterior semicircle of the aorta. It goes behind the peritoneum in the inferior and lateral direction to the deep ring of the inguinal canal. Then, as part of the spermatic cord, it goes to the testicle.

Testicular artery (a. testicularis)
Testicular artery (a. testicularis)
Testicular artery (a. testicularis)
Testicular artery (a. testicularis)

Along its course, it gives off branches to the ureter.

The uretric branches (rr. uretericae) supply the ureter with blood.

Uretric branches (rr. uretericae)
Uretric branches (rr. uretericae)

In the pelvic cavity, it forms an anastomosis with the cremasteric artery (a. cremasterica) and with the artery of the ductus deferens (a. ductus deferentis) by the branch of the umbilical artery.

Cremasteric artery (a. cremasterica)
Cremasteric artery (a. cremasterica)
Ductus deferens (a. ductus deferentis)
Ductus deferens (a. ductus deferentis)

The ovarian artery (a. ovarica) – arises from the anterior semicircle of the aorta below the renal artery at the level of the third lumbar vertebra.

Ovarian artery (a. ovarica)
Ovarian artery (a. ovarica)

It has the following branches:

The tubal branches (rr. tubarii) supply the ampullary part of the uterine tubes.

The ureteric branches (rr. ureterici) go directly to the pelvic part of the ureter

The uterine branches (rr. uterici) go directly to the uterus

The ovarian branches (rr. ovarici) go directly to the ovary

And it also anastomoses with the ovarian branch of the uterine artery (a. uterina)

Uterine artery (a. uterina)
Uterine artery (a. uterina)

Let’s move on to the unpaired branches

The coeliac trunk (truncus coeliacus) arises from the anterior semicircle of the aorta at the level of the twelfth thoracic vertebra. It immediately divides into three large branches.

Coeliac trunk (truncus coeliacus)
Coeliac trunk (truncus coeliacus)

The splenic artery (a. lienalis) is the largest branch, which passes along the superior margin of the body of the pancreas to the spleen.

Splenic artery (a. lienalis)
Splenic artery (a. lienalis)

It divides into the following branches:

Gastric arteries (aa. gastricae breves), which are short and pass to the stomach.

Gastric arteries (aa. gastricae breves)
Gastric arteries (aa. gastricae breves)

Pancreatic branches (rr. pancreaticae), which pass to the neck, body, and tail of the pancreas

Pancreatic branches (rr. pancreaticae)
Pancreatic branches (rr. pancreaticae)

The left gastro-omental artery (a. gastroomentalis sinistra), which arises in the area of the splenic hilum and passes along a greater curvature, where it anastomoses with the right gastro-omental artery (a. gastroomentalis dextra), which is a branch of the gastroduodenal artery. Along its course, it gives off gastric branches (rr. gastricae) and omental branches (rr. omentales).

Left gastro-omental artery (a. gastroomentalis sinistra)
Left gastro-omental artery (a. gastroomentalis sinistra)
Right gastro-omental artery (a. gastroomentalis dextra)
Right gastro-omental artery (a. gastroomentalis dextra)
Gastric branches (rr. gastricae)
Gastric branches (rr. gastricae)
Omental branches (rr. omentales)
Omental branches (rr. omentales)

The common hepatic artery (a. hepatica communis) goes to the liver. It continues into the proper hepatic artery.

Common hepatic artery (a. hepatica communis)
Common hepatic artery (a. hepatica communis)

It gives off a number of branches along its course:

The hepatic artery proper (a. hepatica propria) passes through the thickness of the hepatoduodenal ligament and divides into right and left branches (r. dexter et r. sinister) at the hilum of the liver, which supply the lobes of the liver of the same name with blood.

Hepatic artery proper (a. hepatica propria)
Hepatic artery proper (a. hepatica propria)
  • The right branch (r. dexter) gives off the cystic artery (a. cystica). In the right lobe of the liver, it is divided into an anterior segmental branch (r. segmenti anterioris), which supplies the 5th and 8th segments of the liver with blood, and into a posterior segmental branch (r. segmenti posterioris), which supplies the 6th and 7th segments of the liver with blood.
  • Right branch (r. dexter)
    Right branch (r. dexter)
  • The left branch (r. sinister) divides into lateral and medial segmental branches (r. segmenti lateralis et medialis). It supplies the liver segments I, II and III with blood. It gives off the middle hepatic artery (a. hepatica media), which supplies the IV segment of the liver with blood.
  • Left branch (r. sinister)
    Left branch (r. sinister)
  • The right gastric artery (a. gastrica dextra) passes through the lesser curvature of the stomach, where it anastomoses with the left gastric artery.
  • Right gastric artery (a. gastrica dextra)
    Right gastric artery (a. gastrica dextra)

The gastroduodenal artery (a. gastroduodenalis) arises from the common hepatic artery and goes down behind the pylorus.

Gastroduodenal artery (a. gastroduodenalis)
Gastroduodenal artery (a. gastroduodenalis)
  • The right gastrointestinal artery (a. gastroomentalis dextra) passes to the left along the greater curvature of the stomach, where it anastomoses with a branch of the splenic artery called the left gastro-omental artery (a. gastroomentalis sinistra) and supplies the stomach and large omentum with blood
  • Right gastrointestinal artery (a. gastroomentalis sinstra)
    Right gastrointestinal artery (a. gastroomentalis sinstra)
    Right gastrointestinal artery (a. gastroomentalis sinstra)
    Right gastrointestinal artery (a. gastroomentalis sinstra)
  • The superior, posterior, and anterior pancreatoduodenal arteries (aa. pancreatoduodenales superiores posterior et anterior) give off pancreatic branches (rr. pancreaticae) and duodenal branches (rr. duodenales) to the corresponding organs.
  • Superior, posterior, and anterior pancreatoduodenal arteries (aa. pancreatoduodenales superiores posterior et anterior)
    Superior, posterior, and anterior pancreatoduodenal arteries (aa. pancreatoduodenales superiores posterior et anterior)
    Superior, posterior, and anterior pancreatoduodenal arteries (aa. pancreatoduodenales superiores posterior et anterior)
    Superior, posterior, and anterior pancreatoduodenal arteries (aa. pancreatoduodenales superiores posterior et anterior)

The left gastric artery (a. gastrica sinistra) arises superiorly and to the left to the cardia of the stomach. Then it goes along the lesser curvature of the stomach between the leaves of the lesser omentum, where it anastomoses with the right gastric artery (a. gastrica dexter) with a branch of the hepatic artery proper.

Left gastric artery (a. gastrica sinistra)
Left gastric artery (a. gastrica sinistra)

It has a number of branches along its length:

Esophageal branches (rr. oesophageales) in the amount from 1 to 3, which feed the lower esophagus. Branches that feed the anterior and posterior walls of the stomach arise from the left gastric artery, as well as.

Esophageal branches (rr. oesophageales)
Esophageal branches (rr. oesophageales)

The branches of the splenic artery, as well as the hepatic artery and gastric artery supply the stomach with blood. These vessels form an arterial ring around the stomach, consisting of two arcs located along the lesser curvature of the stomach (right and left gastric arteries) and along the greater curvature of the stomach (right and left gastro-omental arteries).

The superior mesenteric artery (a. mesenterica superior) arises from the abdominal aorta behind the body of the pancreas at the level between the twelfth thoracic and the first lumbar vertebrae. It passes inferiorly and to the right between the head of the pancreas and the inferior part of the duodenum, into the root of the mesentery of the small intestine.

Superior mesenteric artery (a. mesenterica superior)
Superior mesenteric artery (a. mesenterica superior)

It also gives off a number of branches:

The inferior pancreaticoduodenal artery (a. pancreatoduodenalis inferior) passes to the head of the pancreas and duodenum, where the branches of this artery anastomose with the branches of the superior pancreaticoduodenal arteries (aa. pancreatoduodenales superiores) from the system of the coeliac trunk.

Inferior pancreaticoduodenal artery (a. pancreatoduodenalis inferior)
Inferior pancreaticoduodenal artery (a. pancreatoduodenalis inferior)

The jejununal and ileal arteries (aa. jejunales et aa. ileales) arise from the left semicircle of the superior mesenteric artery in the amount from 12 to 18 and pass to the loops of the mesenteric part of the small intestine. In the mesentery of the small intestine, arcuate anastomoses called arcades are formed convex towards the intestinal wall, providing a constant flow of blood to the intestine during peristalsis.

Jejununal arteries (aa. jejunales)
Jejununal arteries (aa. jejunales)
Ileal arteries (aa. ileales)
Ileal arteries (aa. ileales)

The ileocolic artery (a. ileocolica) passes in the inferior direction and to the right to the caecum and appendix.

Ileocolic artery (a. ileocolica)
Ileocolic artery (a. ileocolica)

The anterior and posterior caecal arteries (aa. coecales anterior et posterior) pass to the cecum

Anterior caecal arteries (aa. coecales anterior)
Anterior caecal arteries (aa. coecales anterior)
Posterior caecal arteries (aa. coecales posterior)
Posterior caecal arteries (aa. coecales  posterior)
  • The appendicular artery (a. appendicularis) supplies the appendix with blood
  • Appendicular artery (a. appendicularis)
    Appendicular artery (a. appendicularis)
  • The ileal branch (r. ilealis) passes to the terminal part of the ileum
  • Ileal branch (r. ilealis)
    Ileal branch (r. ilealis)
  • The colic branch (r. colicus) supplies the initial part of the ascending colon with blood
  • Colic branch (r. colicus)
    Colic branch (r. colicus)

The right colic artery (a. colica dextra) arises above the ileocolic artery and goes to the right to the ascending colon, where it anastomoses in its walls with the colic branch of the ileocolic artery and with the branches of the middle colic artery.

Right colic artery (a. colica dextra)
Right colic artery (a. colica dextra)

The middle colic artery (a. colica media) arises from the superior mesenteric artery above the beginning of the right colic artery. It follows up to the transverse colon, supplying it and the superior part of the ascending colon with blood.

Middle colic artery (a. colica media)
Middle colic artery (a. colica media)
Middle colic artery (a. colica media)
Middle colic artery (a. colica media)

The right branch of the middle colic artery anastomoses with the right colic artery, and the left one anastomoses with the branches of the left colic artery along the colon.

Middleand right colic artery anastomoses (a. colica media et coliaca sinistra anastomosis)
Middleand right colic artery anastomoses (a. colica media et coliaca sinistra anastomosis)

This artery supplies the intestine with blood from the suspensory ligament of the duodenum to the middle of the transverse colon.

The inferior mesenteric artery (a. mesenterica inferior) arises from the left semicircle of the abdominal part of the aorta at the level of the 3rd lumbar vertebra. It passes retroperitoneally down and to the left.

Inferior mesenteric artery (a. mesenterica inferior)
Inferior mesenteric artery (a. mesenterica inferior)

It supplies the left side of the transverse, descending, and sigmoid colon with blood, as well as the superior and middle parts of the rectum

The left colic artery (a. colica sinistra) passes to the left and supplies the descending colon and the left part of the transverse colon with blood.

Left colic artery (a. colica sinistra)
Left colic artery (a. colica sinistra)
Left colic artery (a. colica sinistra)
Left colic artery (a. colica sinistra)

The artery anastomoses with the branch of the middle colic artery, forming a long arc of Riolan along the border of the large intestine.

The sigmoid arteries (aa. sigmoideae) pass to the sigmoid colon in its mesentery.

Sigmoid arteries (aa. sigmoideae)
Sigmoid arteries (aa. sigmoideae)

The superior rectal artery (a. rectalis superior) is the terminal branch that descends into the pelvis and supplies the upper and middle parts of the rectum with blood.

Superior rectal artery (a. rectalis superior)
Superior rectal artery (a. rectalis superior)

In the pelvic cavity, this artery anastomoses with the branches of the middle rectal artery (a. rectalis media) by the branch of the internal iliac artery.

Dictionary

Abdominal aortaand its branches

Abdominal aorta
pars abdominalis aortae
Aortic bifurcation
bifurcatio aortae
Median sacral artery
a. sacralis mediana
Inferior phrenic artery
a. phrenica inferior
Superior suprarenal arteries
aa. suprarenales superiores
Lumbar arteries
aa. lumbales
Dorsal branch
r. dorsalis
Middle suprarenal artery
a. suprarenalis media
Inferior suprarenal artery
a. suprarenalis inferior
Renal artery
a. renalis
Anterior branch of the renal artery
r. anterior arteriaerenalis
Superior segmental artery
a. segmenti superioris renis
Antero superior segmental artery
a. segmenti anterioris superioris renis
Antero inferior segmental artery
a. segmenti anterioris inferioris renis
Inferior segmental artery
a. segmenti inferioris renis
Posterior branch of the renal artery
r. posterior arteriaerenalis
Posterior segmental artery
a. segmenti posterioris renis
Interlobar arteries
aa. interlobares renis
Arcuate artery
aa. arcuatae renis
Interlobular arteries
aa. interlobulares renis
Ureteric branches
rr. uretericae
Testicular artery
a. testicularis
Cremasteric artery
a. cremasterica
Artery of the ductusdeferens
a. ductusdeferentis
Ovarian artery
a. ovarica
Tubal branch
rr. tubarii
Uterine branches
rr. uterici
Ovarian branches
rr. ovarici
Uterine artery
a. uterina
Coeliac trunk
truncus coeliacus
Splenic branches
a. lienalis
Short gastric arteries
aa. gastricae breves
Pancreatic branches
rr. pancreaticae
Left gastroomental artery
a. gastroomentalis sinistra
Right gastroomental artery
a. gastroomentalis dextra
Gastric branches
rr. gastricae
Omental branches
rr. omentales
Common hepatic artery
a. hepatica communis
Hepatic artery proper
a. hepatica propria
Right branch
r. dexter
Left branch
r. sinister
Cystic artery
a. cystica
Right gastric artery
a. gastrica dextra
Gastroduodenal artery
a. gastroduodenalis
The superior, posterior and anterior pancreatoduodenal arteries
aa. pancreatoduodenales superiores posterior et anterior
Duodenal branches
rr. duodenales
Oesophageal branches
rr. oesophageales
Superior mesenteric artery
a. mesenterica superior
Jejunal and ileal arteries
aa. jejunales et aa. ileales
Ileocolic artery
a. ileocolica
Anterior and posteriorcaecal artery
aa. coecales anterior et posterior
Appendicular artery
a. appendicularis
Ileal branch
r. ilealis
Colic branch
r. colicus
Right colic artery
a. colica dextra
Middle colic artery
a. colica media
Inferior mesenteric artery
a. mesenterica inferior
Left colic artery
a. colica sinistra
Sigmoid arteries
aa. sigmoideae
Superior rectal artery
a. rectalis superior
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