Common hepatic artery
The common hepatic artery is a short artery that arises from the celiac trunk. It is the largest branch of the celiac trunk and the only one that courses to the right across the epigastric region of the abdomen. The common hepatic artery supplies blood to the liver, pylorus of the stomach, duodenum, pancreas, and gallbladder.
Along its course, the common hepatic artery gives off two branches; the gastroduodenal and right gastric artery. After giving rise to the gastroduodenal artery, it transforms into the proper hepatic artery that goes on to enter the liver.
This article will discuss the anatomy and function of the common hepatic artery.
|Branches||Right gastric artery, gastroduodenal artery, proper hepatic artery|
|Supply||Liver, pylorus of the stomach, duodenum, pancreas, gallbladder|
Origin and course
The common hepatic artery is one of the three branches of the celiac trunk, along with the left gastric and splenic arteries. It arises approximately at the level of the lower border of T12 vertebra, and courses inferiorly, anteriorly and to the right.
As it reaches the upper surface of the proximal part of the duodenum, it turns upwards and enters the right free margin of the lesser omentum, coursing towards the porta hepatis where it divides into its terminal branches. After giving off the gastroduodenal artery, the common hepatic artery is continued by the proper hepatic artery.
Branches and supply
Along its course, the common hepatic artery gives off two branches; the right gastric and gastroduodenal artery; before transforming into the proper hepatic artery.
- Gastroduodenal artery: arises from the common hepatic artery near the upper border of the superior part of the duodenum. It courses inferiorly behind the duodenum and divides into its terminal branches; the right gastroepiploic and superior pancreaticoduodenal arteries. These branches mainly supply the pylorus of the stomach, the superior duodenum, and the head of the pancreas.
- Right gastric artery: arises distally to the gastroduodenal artery, either from the common hepatic artery, or from the proper hepatic artery. After its origin, the right gastric artery turns to the left and runs superiorly along the right side of the lesser curvature of the stomach and anastomoses with the left gastric artery. It gives off several branches at a right angle that supply the lesser curvature of the stomach.
- Proper hepatic artery: a continuation of the common hepatic artery that runs towards the porta hepatis. There, it gives rise to the left and right hepatic arteries that go on to supply the liver and gallbladder.
The common hepatic artery follows the typical origin and branching only in 50-60% of cases, meaning it is often subjected to anatomic variations.
- The common hepatic artery may occasionally arise from the abdominal aorta or superior mesenteric artery.
- A relatively often finding is the trifurcation of the common hepatic artery into the right hepatic artery, left hepatic artery and gastroduodenal artery with the absence of the proper hepatic artery.
- The right gastric artery more often than not arises from the hepatic artery proper instead of the common hepatic artery.