European Radiology

, Volume 24, Issue 8, pp 1777–1784 | Cite as

Anatomical variations in the origins of the celiac axis and the superior mesenteric artery: MDCT angiographic findings and their probable embryological mechanisms

  • Yi WangEmail author
  • Cheng Cheng
  • Lu Wang
  • Ran Li
  • Jin-hua Chen
  • Shui-gen GongEmail author



To identify the spectrum and prevalence of anatomical variations in the origin of the celiac axis (CA), the superior mesenteric artery (SMA) and their major branches by using multidetector computed tomographic (MDCT) angiography.


A retrospective evaluation was carried out on 1,500 abdominal MDCT angiography images. The aortic origins of the CA, the SMA and their major branch patterns were investigated.


Normal aortic origins of CA and SMA were noted in 1,347 (89.8 %) patients. Seven types of CA and SMA origin variants were identified in 153 (10.2 %) patients. The three most common variations were hepatomesenteric trunk (67 patients, 4.47 %), celiomesenteric trunk (CMT) (51 patients, 3.4 %) and splenomesenteric trunk (18 patients, 1.2 %). An evaluation of CMT was classified as long (34 patients, 66.7 %) or short (17 patients, 33.3 %) subtypes, compared with the length of the common trunk. Further CMT classification was based on the origin of the left gastric artery: subtype I, 26 patients (53.1 %); subtype II, 5 patients (10.2 %); subtype III, 15 patients (30.6 %); subtype IV, 3 patients (6.1 %).


Dislocation interruption, incomplete interruption and persistence of the longitudinal anastomosis could be the embryological mechanisms of the variant origins of the CA, the SMA and their major branches.

Key Points

Aortic origins of CA, SMA and their major branches were investigated.

Celiomesenteric trunk includes several different subtypes and configurations.

Probable embryological mechanisms of origin variants in these observed arteries were discussed.

Origin variants in these observed arteries have wide-ranging health implications.


Celiac axis Superior mesenteric artery Variation MDCT angiography Embryological mechanism 



celiac axis


common hepatic artery


celiomesenteric trunk


left gastric artery


splenic artery


superior mesenteric artery



The scientific guarantor of this publication is Yi Wang. The authors of this manuscript declare no relationships with any companies, whose products or services may be related to the subject matter of the article. This study has received funding by a grant from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81071145). Ran Li kindly provided statistical advice for this manuscript. No complex statistical methods were necessary for this paper. Institutional Review Board approval was obtained. Written informed consent was waived by the Institutional Review Board. Methodology: retrospective, observational, performed at one institution.


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Copyright information

© European Society of Radiology 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of RadiologyInstitute of Surgery Research, Daping Hospital, Third Military Medical UniversityChongqingChina

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