Abdominal aorta

The abdominal aorta is the main blood vessel in the abdominal cavity that transmits oxygenated blood from the thoracic cavity to the organs within the abdomen and to the lower limbs.


It is a continuation of descending thoracic aorta at T12 posterior to the median arcuate ligament and diaphragmatic crura.


It descends caudally in the retroperitoneum, anterior and slightly to the left of the lumbar vertebral bodies. The IVC lies to its right.

Between the coeliac and superior mesenteric artery origins, it is crossed anteriorly by the splenic vein and body of the pancreas and between the superior mesenteric and inferior mesenteric artery origins, it is crossed anteriorly by the left renal vein, uncinate process of the pancreas and 3rd part of the duodenum.


It eventually terminates at the L4 level by bifurcating into right and left common iliac arteries.


Branches of the abdominal aorta can be thought of as belonging to a number of groups.

Single ventral branches (to the gut and related viscera)
Paired branches to other viscera
Paired branches to abdominal wall
Single parietal branches
  • variable level of bifurcation
  • right-sided aorta
  • coeliacomesenteric trunk
  • sinous course
  • accessory renal artery
  • direct branches (e.g. splenic, hepatic, accessory hepatic, accessory SMA, internal iliac)
Abdominal and pelvic anatomy
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Article information

rID: 5157
System: Vascular
Section: Anatomy
Tags: artery, refs
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:

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Cases and figures

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    Figure 1
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    Figure 2: abdominal aorta (anterior dissection)
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    Figure 3: abdominal aorta (posterior dissection)
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    Case 1: abdominal aorta MRA
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