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Inferior Mesenteric Artery
Cardiovascular System

Inferior Mesenteric Artery

Arteria mesenterica inferior

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The inferior mesenteric artery is an unpaired branch of the abdominal aorta. It originates at the level of the third lumbar vertebra (L3), approximately 3–4 cm superior to the terminal bifurcation of the aorta.


The inferior mesenteric artery travels anteroinferiorly along the aorta, then deviates towards the left as it passes obliquely towards the pelvic brim.

Along its course it gives off the left colic artery and two to five sigmoid arteries. It sits within the sigmoid mesocolon and crosses the left common iliac artery and pelvic brim. It then continues inferiorly as the superior anorectal artery.


The inferior mesenteric artery gives off the left colic and sigmoid arteries. It continues inferiorly as the superior anorectal artery. The branches of the inferior mesenteric artery all have additional branches that anastomose with each other. This creates the characteristic arterial arcades of intestinal vasculature.

Supplied Structures

The left colic artery supplies the distal one third of the transverse colon and is the main blood supply to the splenic flexure. The sigmoid arteries supply the sigmoid colon, while the superior anorectal artery is the primary supply to the upper two thirds of the rectum.

Learn more about this topic from other Elsevier products

Inferior Mesenteric Artery

ScienceDirect image

The inferior mesenteric artery (IMA) is the final branch arising from the aorta before it bifurcates into the iliac vessels.

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