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One of the most important vessels that receives blood to the liver from the gastrointestinal tract is the hepatic portal vein. This vein receives nutrient rich blood from the abdominal digestive tract, the spleen, the pancreas and the gallbladder. Once inside the liver, the blood is filtered and processed, as well as cleansed of bacteria and toxins.

The hepatic portal vein is formed by the union of the superior mesenteric vein and the splenic vein. In some cases the inferior mesenteric vein has also been seen to join the hepatic vein directly. The gastric and the gastroepiploic veins are both indirect tributaries of the hepatic portal vein that drain the stomach. The pancreaticoduodenal veins, are also indirect tributaries of the hepatic portal vein drain into the superior mesenteric vein.

The hepatic portal vein is one of the three vessels that make up the portal triad. The other two vessels being; the proper hepatic artery, which arises from the common hepatic artery a branch of the celiac trunk, and the common bile duct.

Other branches of the celiac trunk that can be seen in relation to the hepatic portal vein include the splenic artery which gives rise to the left gastroepiploic artery, and the superior mesenteric artery. The right gastroepiploic artery arises from the gastroduodenal artery which is also a branch of the common hepatic artery.

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