The superior mesenteric artery provides blood to the pancreas and parts of the small intestine and large intestine. As a peripheral artery in the body’s circulatory system, it has several branches that send blood to various parts of the GI tract.
The superior mesenteric artery provides oxygenated blood and nutrients to the intestines. These organs are part of the digestive system. The artery branches off of the aorta, which is the body’s largest blood vessel.
Superior refers to the artery’s location above other arteries that supply the intestines. A related artery, the inferior mesenteric artery, supplies the lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
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The superior mesenteric artery is a peripheral artery in the body’s circulatory system. Arteries carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Peripheral arteries circulate blood to parts of the body farther from the heart.
The superior mesenteric artery provides blood to the:
The superior mesenteric artery is in the midsection of the digestive tract (midgut). It originates from the aorta between the celiac artery and renal arteries. The celiac artery supplies blood to the liver, spleen and stomach. The renal arteries send blood to the kidneys.
The superior mesenteric artery travels behind the pancreas. It runs alongside the superior mesenteric vein, which takes blood away from the midgut. Veins carry blood from the body back to the heart and lungs.
The superior mesenteric artery has several branches that send blood to various parts of the GI tract. The branches include the:
Several branches of the superior mesenteric artery and the inferior mesenteric artery connect. This provides the intestines with multiple pathways or sources of blood. The marginal artery of Drummond is one of these connections. This artery runs alongside the colon.
In some patients, the superior mesenteric artery is blocked. The marginal artery of Drummond is an important blood vessel that lets blood reach the GI tract in this scenario.
Conditions that affect the superior mesenteric artery include:
These lifestyle changes can keep your body’s circulatory system healthy:
You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
The superior mesenteric artery plays a vital role in keeping the digestive system healthy and functioning. If the artery clogs with plaque or develops a clot, blood flow to digestive organs slows. Rarely, the superior mesenteric artery presses against a renal vein or the duodenum, causing potentially life-threatening problems.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/26/2021.
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