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Common hepatic artery

Recommended video: Arteries of the stomach, liver and spleen [14:13]
Arteries which supply the stomach, liver and spleen.
Common hepatic artery (arteria hepatica communis)

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 rise to the gastroduodenal artery and continues its course as the proper hepatic artery. The proper hepatic artery gives off the right hepatic artery and ends with a bifurcation at the hilum of the liver by giving of the left hepatic artery and right hepatic artery.

This article will discuss the anatomy and function of the common hepatic artery.

Key facts about the common hepatic artery
Origin Celiac trunk
Branches Gastroduodenal artery, proper hepatic artery
Supply Liver, pylorus of the stomach, duodenum, pancreas, gallbladder
  1. Origin and course
  2. Branches and supply
  3. Anatomical variations
  4. Sources
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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.
  • Proper hepatic artery: a continuation of the common hepatic artery that runs towards the porta hepatis. It gives off the right gastric artery above the superior part of the duodenum near the hepatoduodenal ligament. Afterward, it runs towards the hepatic portal vein to bifurcate into the right and left hepatic arteries that go on to supply the liver and gallbladder.

Test your knowledge on the arteries of the stomach, liver and spleen with this interactive quiz.

Anatomical variations

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 in 40% origin from the common hepatic artery.

Common hepatic artery: want to learn more about it?

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