Blood Supply to Small Bowel

  • With the exception of a portion of the first part of the duodenum, the small bowel is supplied by the many branches of the superior mesenteric artery.
  • The branches anastomose with each other in two layers of arcades or arches, and from these, small straight vessels pass to the bowel surface, traveling around and through the wall, dividing into smaller and smaller branches.
  • The arcades and multiple straight vessels are an adaptation which protect the bowel. Damage can occur to a portion of the small bowel without loss of the entire organ. Clots and ischemia from atherosclerosis and other vascular pathologies can affect the small bowel, much like the brain, heart, kidney and other organs can be affected by such conditions.

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