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Arteries and veins of the small intestine

Learning objectives

Completing this study unit will allow you to:

  1. Name the main branches of the aorta which are involved in supplying the small intestine.
  2. List the main tributaries of the hepatic portal vein which are involved in draining the small intestine.
  3. Describe arterial supply and venous drainage of each part of the small intestine.

Watch videos

The small intestine comprises three separate segments, the duodenum, the jejunum and the ileum, each with different vasculature. The proximal half of the duodenum, which is part of the foregut, is mainly supplied by branches of the gastroduodenal artery (a terminal branch of the common hepatic artery). Tributaries draining this part of the duodenum mostly empty directly into the portal vein. 

The rest of the small intestine, which belongs to the midgut, receives its arterial supply and venous drainage from the main vessels associated with the midgut: the superior mesenteric artery (SMA) and vein. It is important to note that both the arterial supply and the venous drainage of the small intestine is highly variable.

Learn about the detailed vasculature of the small intestine, as well as other important blood vessels in this region in our videos below!

Take a quiz

So much information! Make it stick with this quiz below:

If you want to challenge yourself even further, why not take a quiz on the neurovasculature and lymphatics of the whole abdomen, which you can customize yourself down to single terms!

Browse atlas

Explore each of the individual arteries you learned about today in the gallery below.

Once you’re all clear on the arteries, turn your attention to the veins.


Key points about the vascular supply of the small intestine
Duodenum arterial supply
(proximal part)
Main arteries: Anterior superior pancreaticoduodenal artery, posterior superior pancreaticoduodenal artery (from gastroduodenal artery)

Minor contributions:
Right gastric (from proper hepatic artery), supraduodenal, retroduodenal and right gastroomental arteries (from gastroduodenal artery)
Duodenum arterial supply
(distal part)
Main arteries: Anterior inferior pancreaticoduodenal artery, posterior inferior pancreaticoduodenal artery (from SMA)

Minor contributions:
First jejunal artery (from SMA)
Duodenum venous drainage Proximal part: Superior pancreaticoduodenal vein (drains into right gastroepiploic vein and hepatic portal vein)

Distal part:
Inferior pancreaticoduodenal vein (drains into superior mesenteric vein)
Jejunum vascular supply Arteries: Jejunal arteries (arterial arcades) to straight arteries (from SMA)

Jejunal veins (drain to superior mesenteric vein)
Ileum vascular supply Arteries: Ileal arteries (arterial arcades) to straight arteries, Ileal branch of ileocolic artery (from SMA)

Ileal veins, Ileocolic vein (drain to superior mesenteric vein)

Well done!

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