Inferior mesenteric vein

Last revised by Daniel J Bell on 9 Oct 2023

The inferior mesenteric vein (IMV) drains blood from the distal portion of the colon as well as the rectum (i.e. the hindgut). 

Gross anatomy

Origin and course

The inferior mesenteric vein drains the mesenteric arcade of the hindgut (comprising of distal transverse, descending, and sigmoid colon). Specifically, it drains the tributaries of sigmoid veins, middle and left colic veins, as well as the superior rectal vein. The rectal vein and sigmoid vein usually join to form a common trunk before uniting with the left colic vein.


The inferior mesenteric vein usually drains into the splenic vein; however, anatomical variants where it drains to the superior mesenteric vein or at the splenoportal angle are not uncommon.


The inferior mesenteric vein lies left of the inferior mesenteric artery and anterior to the left psoas major muscle, close to the ligament of Trietz. It can cross the left testicular artery or ascend medially to it.

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: portal venous system
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