The ovarian artery is a long paired vessel that usually stems from the anterolateral aspect of the abdominal aorta. It courses through much of the abdomen and pelvis, ending in the suspensory ligament of ovary.
The male equivalent of the ovarian artery is the testicular artery. Together, these two arteries are referred to as the gonadal arteries. The ovarian artery provides blood supply for the ovary, ureter, and the uterine tube.
This article will discuss the anatomy and function of the ovarian artery.
|Branches||Tubal branches, ovarian branches, ureteric branches|
|Supply||Abdominal and/or pelvic ureter, ampullary end of uterine tube, ovary|
The ovarian arteries arise from the anterolateral aspects of the abdominal aorta, inferior to the origin of the renal arteries and superior to the inferior mesenteric artery, around the level of vertebra L2/L3. They run inferolaterally in the retroperitoneum; the right artery crosses anterior to the inferior vena cava, while the left one lies posterior to the inferior mesenteric artery.
Both arteries run anterior to the psoas major and the middle portion of the ureter which they usually supply. Upon crossing the pelvic brim (the edge of the pelvic inlet), they continue their course between the two layers of the suspensory ligament of ovary, towards the ovary. On their course, the arteries are accompanied by the ovarian veins.
Branches and supply
On their course, the ovarian arteries give rise to several branches named after the structures for which they provide the blood supply. These branches include ureteric branches, tubal branches, and ovarian branches.
- The ureteric branches usually supply the middle third of the ureter, including its pelvic and abdominal parts.
- The tubal branches supply the ampullary end of the uterine (fallopian) tubes.
- The ovarian branches provide arterial blood supply for the ovary. Ovarian and tubal branches form anastomoses with their counterpart branches of the uterine artery.
To learn more about the blood supply of the female pelvis, check out our other articles, videos, labeled diagrams and quizzes.
Variations of origin are not uncommon in the ovarian arteries, most often in relation to vertebral level or parent artery. In approximately 10-20% of cases, they can originate from the renal arteries, on one side or on both. Less frequently, it can arise from suprarenal, inferior phrenic, superior mesenteric, lumbar, common iliac or internal iliac arteries.