Celiac artery

Last revised by Jeremy Jones on 7 Apr 2024

The celiac artery, also known as the celiac axis or celiac trunk, is a major splanchnic artery in the abdominal cavity supplying the foregut. It arises from the abdominal aorta and commonly gives rise to three branches: left gastric artery, splenic artery, and common hepatic artery

The celiac artery arises anteriorly from the abdominal aorta just below the diaphragm at the T12 level, behind the median arcuate ligament, just as the aorta enters the abdomen in between the right and left crura. The celiac ganglia and plexus surround the vessel at its origin.

The celiac artery is typically a short vessel that passes underneath the median arcuate ligament, often indented on its superior surface by this ligament, and then courses anteriorly or slightly anterolaterally in the lesser sac. It is surrounded by celiac lymph nodes and the celiac plexus. At the upper border of the pancreas, it divides into three branches: left gastric, splenic, and common hepatic arteries. The left gastric artery is usually the first branch, after which the celiac artery bifurcates into the splenic artery (coursing to the left) and the common hepatic artery (coursing to the right).

  • common trunk with bifurcation into the hepatosplenic trunk and left gastric artery: 50-76%

  • common trunk with trifurcation into the common hepatic artery, splenic artery and left gastric artery: 10-19%

  • quadrifurcating or pentafurcating trunk with the gastroduodenal artery, right and left hepatic arteries and dorsal pancreatic artery potentially originating from the trunk: 10% 4

The celiac artery supplies the foregut, which is defined by the following structures 6

Classic branching of the celiac artery into the left gastric artery, splenic artery, and the common hepatic artery is seen in approximately 70%. Variations are present in approximately 30%. In general, any of the three celiac branches may arise independently from the aorta or SMA (superior mesenteric artery), or the celiac artery may give rise to other branches. A celiacomesenteric trunk occurs when both the SMA and the celiac trunk originate as a single trunk from the aorta. 

  • left gastric artery: 2-3%

  • splenic artery: <1%

  • common hepatic artery: 2%

  • left gastric artery: extremely rare

  • splenic artery: <1%

  • common hepatic artery: 2%

  • common origin of the celiac artery and SMA (celiacomesenteric trunk): <1%

Many branching variations of the second and third-order branches of the celiac artery exist, particularly of the hepatic artery. These variations are discussed with the common hepatic artery.

The term "celiac" is derrived from the Greek word "koilia", meaning "belly", in reference to the abdominal cavity 7.

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