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Superior mesenteric vein: want to learn more about it?

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Superior mesenteric vein

Superior mesenteric vein (Vena mesenterica superior)

The superior mesenteric vein (SMV) is a large venous vessel located in the abdomen. It arises within the mesentery of the small intestine from the small tributaries that drain blood from the terminal ileum, caecum and vermiform appendix. It terminates by uniting with the splenic vein and forming the portal vein.

The main function of the superior mesenteric vein is to drain the blood from the distal portion of the gastrointestinal tract. Specifically, it drains the small intestine, caecum, ascending and transverse parts of the colon, and distal parts of the stomach and greater omentum.

Key facts about the superior mesenteric vein
Drains from Union of tributaries from the terminal ileum, caecum and vermiform appendix
Tributaries Jejunal, ileal, ileocolic, right colic, middle colic, right gastroepiploic, inferior pancreaticoduodenal veins
Drains to Hepatic portal vein
Drainage area Small intestine, caecum, ascending and transverse parts of the colon, parts of the stomach and greater omentum

This article will discuss the anatomy and function of the superior mesenteric vein.

Origin and course

The superior mesenteric vein is a large abdominal vein that is formed by the small terminal veins that drain the ileum, caecum and vermiform appendix. It runs superomedially, traversing the mesentery of the small intestine. Along its course, the vein accompanies the superior mesenteric artery that runs on its left side.

The superior mesenteric vein terminates at the transpyloric plane (around the lower margin of the L1 vertebra) by merging with the splenic vein to form the hepatic portal vein.

Tributaries and drainage area

The superior mesenteric vein has numerous tributaries that drain the structures of the gastrointestinal tract, starting from the distal stomach to the transverse colon. These tributaries are:

  • The jejunal vein
  • The ileal vein 
  • The ileocolic vein
  • The right colic vein
  • The middle colic vein
  • The right gastroepiploic vein
  • The inferior pancreaticoduodenal vein

By collecting the blood from these veins, the superior mesenteric vein carries the nutrients absorbed in the small intestine into the hepatic portal vein. The portal vein then conveys them to the liver, which then metabolically processes those nutrients and prepares them to be distributed throughout the body.

Explore our articles, quizzes, video tutorials and labeled diagrams to learn everything about the veins of the small intestine.

Superior mesenteric vein: want to learn more about it?

Our engaging videos, interactive quizzes, in-depth articles and HD atlas are here to get you top results faster.

What do you prefer to learn with?

“I would honestly say that Kenhub cut my study time in half.” – Read more. Kim Bengochea Kim Bengochea, Regis University, Denver

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