The superior mesenteric artery (Latin: arteria mesenterica superior) is a blood vessel that arises from the anterior surface of the abdominal aorta just below the origin of the coeliac trunk. It provides part of the intestines and pancreas with oxygenated blood.
The superior mesenteric artery supplies the distal half of the descending part of the duodenum, the horizontal and ascending parts of the duodenum, the jejunum, the ileum, the ascending colon, and the proximal two-thirds of the transverse colon, as well as the pancreas.
The artery arises anteriorly from the abdominal aorta just below the celiac trunk, anterior to the lower part of the vertebra L1. At first, it travels in an anterior and inferior direction, passing behind the neck of the pancreas and the splenic vein.
On its course, after passing the neck of the pancreas, the superior mesenteric artery gives rise to several branches. The first branch arising from the artery is the inferior pancreaticoduodenal artery. Further, the superior mesenteric artery gives off jejunal and ileal arteries on its left. Three branches arise from the artery on the right side - the middle colic, right colic, and ileocolic arteries. These branches supply the terminal ileum, cecum, ascending colon, and the proximal two-thirds of the transverse colon.
Anteriorly, the superior mesenteric artery is crossed by the splenic vein and the neck of the pancreas. Posterior to the artery lies the left renal vein, the uncinate process of the pancreas, and the inferior part of the duodenum.
Typically, the artery runs on the left of the superior mesenteric vein.