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Arteries of the large intestine

Learning objectives

After going through this study unit, you will:

  1. Learn the pattern of the arterial supply of large intestine in a logical way based on embryological origin of its segments
  2. Name the main arterial sources that supply the large intestine and their branches
  3. Visualize and learn the course of these arteries and their anatomical relations

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The large intestine is a final part of the alimentary tract whose function is to absorb the water and salts from food, as well as to get rid of the unnecessary waste that’s left over after that absorption. The human alimentary tract develops from three parts of the primitive gut tube: foregut, midgut and hindgut. The proximal half of the large intestine is a midgut derivative, while the rest of it belongs to the hindgut. This gives sense to the pattern of vascular supply of the large intestine:

  • The midgut part, from ileocecal junction to the proximal two-thirds of the transverse colon, is supplied by the branches of the superior mesenteric artery.
  • The hindgut part, from the final third of transverse colon to the termination of anal canal, is supplied by the branches of the inferior mesenteric artery and internal iliac artery.
  • These terminal branches of the superior and inferior mesenteric arteries anastomose to form the marginal artery of colon (of Drummond), which contributes to the supply of the entire large intestine.

This video tutorial will help you understand the patterns of arterial supply of the large intestine and to learn the key facts about the blood vessels that are involved in it.

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Key points about the arteries of the large intestine
Superior mesenteric artery Supplies the derivatives of the midgut:
Anterior cecal artery, posterior cecal artery (branches of ileocolic artery)
Appendicular artery (branch of ileocolic artery)
Ascending colon:
Colic branch (of ileocolic artery), right colic artery
Proximal ⅔ of transverse colon:
Middle colic artery
Inferior mesenteric artery Supplies a part of the hindgut derivatives:
Distal ⅓ of transverse colon:
Left colic artery
Descending colon:
Left colic artery
Sigmoid colon:
Sigmoid arteries
Superior part of rectum:
Superior anorectal artery
Internal iliac artery Supplies the rest of the hindgut derivatives:
Middle and inferior parts of rectum:
Middle anorectal artery, inferior anorectal artery

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