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Abdominal aorta

Anatomy and branches of the abdominal aorta.

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Hi, everyone! This is Matt from Kenhub, and the focus of this tutorial is the abdominal aorta, its anatomy and branches.

It is a section of the aorta, which is the largest blood vessel in the body. It is an artery that directly arises from the heart itself and descends through the thorax and into the abdomen. All the arteries of the body, save the pulmonary arteries, stem from the aorta or one of its main branches.

In order to get a clear picture of its location, let’s walk briefly through an overview of the aorta.

After starting at the aortic valve, the ascending aorta winds towards the head, becomes the aortic arch or the transverse aorta as it makes a rainbow shape over the superior aspect of the heart, and then moves in an inferior direction through the chest and abdomen. At the left subclavian artery, it becomes the thoracic aorta. After the thoracic aorta comes the abdominal aorta.

The abdominal aorta, the largest artery in the abdomen, begins at the level of the diaphragm, and lies anterior to the vertebrae, and runs parallel to the inferior vena cava. It ends where the abdominal aorta divides into its terminal branches.

There are three sets of branches from the abdominal aorta. The visceral branches: the celiac, the superior mesenteric, the inferior mesenteric, the middle suprarenals, renals, and gonadals. These supply the organs in the abdomen, the kidneys, testicles, and ovaries. The parietal branches: the inferior phrenics, lumbars, and the median sacral which ascend to supply the diaphragm and the posterior abdominal walls. And the terminal branches: the common iliacs which supply the lower extremities, the organs of the pelvis, and the pelvic wall.

Of these arteries, the paired arteries are as follows: the suprarenals, the renals, the gonadals, the inferior phrenics, the lumbars, and the common iliacs. The celiac, the superior and inferior mesenteric arteries, and the median sacral are unpaired.

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