Abdominal Anatomy - surface landmarks


Surface Markings of the Abdomen

Erect posture

Supine posture

TABLE 72-1 Major Branches of the Abdominal Aorta
GroupArterial Branches
Group 1
Group 2
Group 3
Testes and ovariesTesticular and ovarian arteries
Group 4
Terminal and posterior branches

  • It begins at T12 and ends at L4, where it divides into the right and left common iliac arteries.

  • The abdominal aorta has:
    • 3 single anterior visceral branches (coeliac, superior mesenteric artery, inferior mesenteric artery)
    • 3 paired lateral visceral branches  (suprarenal, renal, gonadal)
    • 5 paired lateral abdominal wall branches (inferior phrenic and four lumbar)
    • 3 terminal branches (two common iliac arteries and the median sacral artery)
  • For some reason, there are 3 suprarenal arteries. These supply the adrenal glands. The superior branch is derived from the inferior phrenic artery, the middle branch originates directly from the aorta, and the inferior branch comes off the renal artery.
  • The IVC runs parallel to the aorta on its right-hand side.
  • Because the IVC is in the way, the right renal artery has to pass behind it to get to the right kidney.
  • The gonadal arteries (testicular in men, ovarian in women) are situated surprisingly high up in the abdomen, considering that the organs they supply are either dangling in the scrotum or way down in the pelvis. This is because, during early fetal life, the gonads begin to develop up next to the kidneys before migrating downwards to their proper positions. They get their blood supply from where they started, not from where they end up.
  • The lumbar arteries arise posteriorly and will not be easily visible on most anatomical prosections.
  • The fifth lumbar arteries on either side arise from the median sacral artery.