Superior mesenteric artery

In human anatomy, the superior mesenteric artery (SMA) arises from the anterior surface of the abdominal aorta, just inferior to the origin of the celiac trunk, and supplies the intestine from the lower part of the duodenum through two-thirds of the transverse colon, as well as the pancreas.

Superior mesenteric artery
Frontal view of the superior mesenteric artery and its branches. The large vessel (blue) beside the SMA is the superior mesenteric vein. A considerable number of different branching patterns exist.
3D-rendered computed tomography of abdominal aortic branches, showing exit of superior mesenteric artery between the kidneys.
Precursorvitelline arteries
Sourceabdominal aorta
Branchesinferior pancreaticoduodenal
middle colic
right colic
intestinal branches (jejunal, ileal)
Veinsuperior mesenteric vein
Latinarteria mesenterica superior
Anatomical terminology


It arises anterior to lower border of vertebra L1 in an adult. It is usually 1 cm lower than the celiac trunk. It initially travels in an anterior/inferior direction, passing behind/under the neck of the pancreas and the splenic vein. Located under this portion of the superior mesenteric artery, between it and the aorta, are the following:

The SMA typically runs to the left of the similarly named vein, the superior mesenteric vein. After passing the neck of the pancreas it starts giving off its branches.

SMA Branches

inferior pancreaticoduodenal arteryhead of the pancreas and to the ascending and inferior parts of the duodenum (proximal loop)
intestinal arteriesbranches to ileum, branches to jejunum (proximal loop)
ileocolic arterysupplies last part of ileum, cecum, and appendix (distal loop)
right colic arteryto ascending colon (distal loop)
middle colic arteryto the transverse colon (distal loop)

The middle, right, and ileocecal branches anastomose with each other to form a marginal artery along the inner border of the colon. This artery is completed by branches of the left colic which is a branch of the inferior mesenteric artery.

Clinical relevance

Additional images


  1. Redaelli CA, Schilling MK, Büchler MW (1998). "Intraoperative laser Doppler flowmetry: a predictor of ischemic injury in acute mesenteric infarction". Digestive Surgery. 15 (1): 55–9. doi:10.1159/000018587. ISSN 0253-4886. PMID 9845564.
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